Quarrel over ‘quarry’
Harbour Grace officials dig into details of site development
It was a lively scene at the Town of Harbour Grace Council Office on May 6 during the council’s bi-weekly meeting.
Several councillors engaged in a fiery discussion over an application to the town this year by Star Realty Ltd. for a quarry excavation permit for Cathedral Street, in an area where residential development is currently taking place. The area is in plain view of motorists travelling in and out of the town along the main access road to Harbour Grace on Route 70 towards Carbonear.
Provincial government officials consider a quarry as “any site from which materials, such as rock or mineral s , a re mined, extracted or removed.” The town denied the application. Town records show the company was issued a twoyear permit for site development for the location on April 16 of last year. It allows Star Realty to complete the residential groundwork for constructing houses in the area.
Ted Penney of Star Realty said he made a mistake applying for a quarry permit, and meant to apply for an extension permit for site development, which he believed was only good for 12 months.
He also said the new development is built on an area that used to be a large hill, so excavating the land is the only way to develop it, but stressed it is “not a quarry.”
Coun. Walter Walsh referred to the area as an “eyesore,” noting motorists do not want to see piles of rock and sand upon entering the town.
He also strongly believes it is a quarry.
Residential zoning concerns
Mayor Don Coombs was adamant during the meeting a quarry permit would never be issued for this location because of rezoning that took place in the town in 2010.
According to town records, the area in question has been residential since then, and government regulations deny quarry operations in residential areas.
Penney said the quarry designation for the land is incorrect, and residential areas cannot be classified as such.
Officials with Department of Natural Resources told The Compass via email, “The department will not issue a permit where municipal zoning does not allow.”
Star Realty was, however, issued a quarry permit by the provincial government in 2012, but the email said the permit was for site development, which included, “ground preparation, landscaping and redistribution of material on-site, and removal of surplus material off-site.” The permit expired Dec. 31 last year. According to the department, the town did not have any terms or conditions attached to the quarry permit except it could not be renewed next year, but Coombs has consistently stated the town was not consulted when it was issued.
“Natural Resources want a quarry permit ( from us) this year,” he said. “But we were never contacted last year.”
“We are not out there without permits, you can’t work without them,” Penney said, noting he has a permit to continue the work this year, which he plans on doing.
Coun. Wendell Hunt said the area should not be classified as a quarry since the company needs to excavate the land before it can build the 12 homes requested in the site development permit.
Coun. Walsh believes the work laid out in the original site development permit is not being completed fast enough and some Harbour Grace residents agree with him.
Orange construction signs have lined the street for over a year, and there has been no formal development of septic systems or lot construction, just noticeable piles of dirt and stone on the land.
Penney is currently working on a development plan of the site so the council can have an idea what the project’s timeframe will be.
Although not officially completed, he believes up to five building lots will be ready to go before the new year, but the entire project should be completed in the next 24 months.
In order for construction to continue past the April 16, 2014 deadline, Star Realty will have to apply for an extension to the project.
Mayor Coombs has acknowledged this could be the case, but said if development has not been active, and if there is very little progress, he cannot sign an extension, and doubts the council will allow one either.
Penney has many different developments in the Town of Harbour Grace, and owns a significant amount of land there, including a section on Kildare Road and a large development in Bristol’s Hope.
There are more than 20 completed lots available for purchase in the Bristol’s Hope area at the present time.
Penney said his relationship with the town is what allows growth and development to take place.
“The town has always been alongside of what we do, and I know they would like to see the town grow,” he said. “You can’t have houses built in Harbour Grace without development and you can’t have development without a tear-up.”
Penney is adamant on continuing development in areas where he owns property.
“Every piece of land we have in the town, we are going to develop it,” he explained. “Whether it’s industrial, commercial or residential.”
There’s been plenty of debate recently about the type of activity taking place at this proposed residential development in Harbour Grace, on a very visible section of land at the north entrance to the town.