Land may be developed as part of county, not city, county council says

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County of Grande Prairie council moved forward with re-designating approximately 17 acres of land southwest of the city to allow development, said reeve Leanne Beaupre.

The re-designation came over the city’s objections, as county council also approved amendments to its Cowan Area Structure Plan (ASP) to remove reference to the city annexing the land.

The 2016 ASP is meant to guide the subdivision and development of the Cowan lands, which are south of Grande Prairie Airport and north of Flyingshot Lake.

Beaupre said city annexation would have been triggered by re-designation under the old ASP, which led to the amendments.

“The (city planning department) voiced their objections, … but (county) council felt it was it was within our obligation to the landowner to move forward with the request to re-designate the land,” Beaupre said.

She said the re-designation was requested by the landowner, who can build on or sell it for industrial purposes.

The land was mostly zoned as agricultural, but much of the surrounding area is already industrial, Beaupre said.

At this time, the county has received no proposals for development, she noted.

Joe Johnson, city panning and development manager, wrote a letter to county planning opposing the proposed ASP amendments.

Johnson wrote the city was asking for dispute resolution and added the city would go to the Municipal Government Board for resolution if the ASP amendments were approved.

“The revisions to the Cowan ASP and the rezoning of this parcel has a detrimental effect on the city,” Johnson wrote.

He said the city hopes any subdivision and development will meet city standards, to save the “costly upgrades” to the developer should annexation occur.

“The city continues to believe that a consensual annexation would resolve the issues,” Johnson wrote.

“It’s out of the county’s hands if the city does decide to file an appeal to the Municipal Government Board,” Beaupre told the News.

“Regardless of the outcome of the Municipal Government Board’s opinion, the change in the land use is consistent to what is adjacent to it.”

Administration also submitted information in the agenda package stating the landowner has been consulted and doesn’t support annexation, with support being required under the IDP.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News