By Jennifer Hoegg
Feelings of frustration over decades of delays were evident at a Utility and Review Board hearing in New Minas last week, which heard an application to expand the village’s boundaries over three days.
The village applied in January 2011 to extend its boundaries south to take in approximately 900 acres owned by 17 landowners. The Municipality of the County of Kings is opposing the application, asking for a delay to allow for its regional planning project, Kings 2050, to be completed.
While the sessions wrapped up late June 13, it is expected to be months before the board renders a decision.
Panel of staff and experts from both the village and county gave evidence during the hearing.
During the June 11 session, New Minas planning consultant Jenifer Tsang testified the subject lands in an area discussed for 15 or more years as a logical location for the village to expand.
“This is the land that has the accessibility to road network, to future service extensions - from a planning point of view it’s the natural pattern where development would go.”
Traffic engineer Ken O’Brien noted it is important for the property owners to work with government on design of a collector road so it aligns with the planned Granite Drive Highway 101 interchange.
Engineer Doug Seamone confirmed the village has excess water and sewage capacity to accommodate the expansion.
On the second day of hearings, June 12, four landowners told the board why they want the boundaries expanded to include their properties. The four represent 17 property owners of the subject land, known as Canaan Ridge or New Minas South.
Marvin Barfoot, who owns a RV park west of the New Canaan Road, said he was interested in being included within the village boundaries in order to acquire water and sewer services. He said he inquired about having municipal services extended to his business previously.
“They told me at that time I would not be eligible because I am not in the growth area of New Minas.”
Cecil Lockhart, a local developer who was part of a failed application for expansion in 1991, praised the county planning department, but said development south of the 101 needed the “stabilizing force” of the village to go anywhere.
Pauline Raven Cudmore said her family bought property on Canaan Ridge 30 years ago with the “reasonable expectation” development would proceed in that area.
Don Wallace, whose Cankor Holdings owns the large amount of the subject lands, said the county “has undertaken hundreds of thousands worth of studies” and the work of four directors of planning recommending development south of Highway 101.
Wallace said not expanding New Minas at this time would lead to “bitter, sharp, acrimony and deeply embedded animosity between all parties for years to come.”
“You have said repeatedly, Mr. Wallace, that you are speaking out of 20 years of frustration at not being able to develop your land,” county lawyer Douglas Lutz said during questioning. “When one acquires a piece of land, particularly in the forest out in the middle of nowhere, there is no guarantee you will be able to develop your land.”
Lutz also pointed out development of the lands hinges on construction of the proposed Highway 101 Granite Drive interchange and it is not up to the county when that construction takes place.
The board also heard from property owners Emscote Limited and the Millett Trust.
Seven members of the public also spoke, including other landowners of property within the proposed boundary expansion.
Kings County representatives gave evidence June 13. The board asked the county to provide further information, including a list and details of all MPS amendments considered by county council since Jan. 1, 2010; copies of letters from the province overturning or partially overturning Kings County approvals of MPS amendments and clarification on the position of the county with respect to the boundary application.
Once the documents are provided, the parties will have a few weeks to provide final summations and then the village may provide a final rebuttal.
“Once the last piece of information has arrived at the board they go into the writing phase,” UARB executive director Paul Allen said. The board then has 90 days to provide a decision.
“On average we do quite a better than that,” he added.
For further information, visit the board’s website and search for matter M03833 under “evidence.”