Quar­rel over ‘quarry’

Har­bour Grace of­fi­cials dig into de­tails of site de­vel­op­ment

The Compass - - NEWS - BYMELISSA JENK­INS SPE­CIAL TO THE COM­PASS Melissa.Jenk­ins@tc.tc

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.”

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/the Com­pass

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.

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