City administration has been authorized and directed by Chestermere City Council to approach work with Rocky View County (RVC) to solicit a notice to initiate the annexation of the East Acreages back into the RVC jurisdiction.
During the June 8 Committee of the Whole Meeting, city administration went through five landowner proposals and presented nine alternatives, and during the July 20 Regular Meeting of Council presented alternative options for East Acreages.
“There were five points the landowners had indicated as far as options they want to see moving forward, including a revamping of the zone to mirror RVC, the sub-area would be removed from the East Acreages Area Structure Plan (ASP) area, the lands immediately adjacent to East Lake View Road would be connected to sewer water as municipal services were available, and the city would commit to having this all in place by Oct. 1,” said the Acting Co-Director Community Growth & Infrastructure, Jeff Gibeau.
Adding, “If Chestermere was unwilling to place zoning to allow the rural interim direction, we consider working for RVC and annexing back the land area to the county.”
Staff went through nine alternatives including proving a fill station, providing a dump station, updating the Utility Master Plan, re-opening and approving the existing draft ASP, a Land Use Bylaw amendment to modify districts to allow subdivision, a Land Use Bylaw amendment to redesignate area to Urban Transition, new or a separate tax class, and creating a new or modifying the Economic Incentive Policy.
“Taken together, it was concluded that based on the project team’s previous evaluation of the legal, planning, and engineering context, with specific attention paid to the existing policy framework, administration’s recommendation remained that the East Acreages should be built out to an urban standard,” Gibeau said.
“Administration has committed to council to turn over every stone, and in doing that, we have a new alternative. It’s not part of any legislative framework, it’s good work being done by staff looking at different options and what’s been done in other municipalities,” he said.
Adding, “I can honestly, and professionally say staff have looked at so many different alternatives it’s not countable at this point.”
There is a final option where the municipality can request the Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs to approve an extension request that would allow the lower mill rate to remain in place for an additional specified time period beyond the time frame.
“It would leave East Acreages in a position of a lower mill rate, that they are currently experiencing for a specified time frame while we monitor the progress of development in the community and the service extensions to continually assess when East Acreages would be a viable development scenario,” Gibeau said.
City administration has been advised to request a time frame, and provincial authorities can take up to one year to make a final decision.
“There are no guarantees, but it’s been done in the past,” Gibeau said.
If the request is approved by the Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs, it will result in the continued reduced tax rate which can negatively impact the city’s debt projections.
“A reduction to the taxes for these property owners may be warranted since there are less services to the annexed lands. This reduction would be offset by an increase to the remaining tax base, which would be a neutral result with the Property Tax Revenue,” Gibeau said.
“There is a financial impact, in our projections we have projected that area coming online under the Chestermere mill rate, is anticipated to be an increase in tax revenue. If we are to extend the lower mill rate, that would affect the projections and lose revenue that we anticipated in the coming years,” he said.
City administration will continue working with Municipal Affairs to determine if it is possible to seek an extension and will provide an update to the community.