Pro­posed change to de­vel­op­ment reg­u­la­tions will hurt Har­bour Grace

The Compass - - OPINION -

Re­cently, it came to my at­ten­tion that a de­vel­op­ment, which had not re­ceived the town’s ap­proval, was tak­ing place next to my prop­erty. In fact, a stop work or­der for an un­ap­proved por­tion of the de­vel­op­ment had al­ready been is­sued, but work was still un­der­way. I ex­pressed my con­cern about the un­ap­proved por­tion of the project to the town man­ager, the mayor, and the coun­cil­lors and re­quested that the fol­low­ing at­tached cor­re­spon­dence be tabled at the Sept 10th 2014 coun­cil meet­ing: • a let­ter ex­plain­ing my con­cerns • a copy of the reg­u­la­tions that were not be­ing com­plied with, and • a cer­ti­fied land survey of my prop­erty. Un­for­tu­nately, de­spite nu­mer­ous phone calls and emails re­quest­ing an up­date on the ac­tions taken to en­force the by­laws, I have not heard one word from the town man­ager. In­stead of en­forc­ing the town’s by­laws, the majority of coun­cil ap­pears to be in favour of amending Reg­u­la­tion 38-Com­pre­hen­sive De­vel­op­ment to re­move min­i­mum land area re­quire­ments. It is vi­tal for reg­u­la­tions deal­ing with large projects to spec­ify min­i­mum land area re­quire­ments. This will en­sure de­vel­op­ment is of an ap­pro­pri­ate scale in relation to the size of the land and the avail­able in­fra­struc­ture such as wa­ter and sewer. With­out this caveat in the reg­u­la­tion, the town is de­fence­less to stop in­ap­pro­pri­ate de­vel­op­ments that may put at risk the value of peo­ple’s homes and prop­er­ties and their per­sonal safety due to the fire risks, which will re­quire a whole sep­a­rate let­ter to out­line. With­out a min­i­mum land re­quire­ment coun­cil­lors will have no way of en­sur­ing that de­vel­op­ments do not neg­a­tively af­fect Har­bour Grace’s eco­nomic, phys­i­cal, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal qual­ity of life.

The town’s fi­nan­cial fu­ture will be dam­aged be­cause Har­bour Grace will be known as a very risky place to invest de­vel­op­ment dol­lars or to buy a home due to the lack of reg­u­la­tory pro­tec­tion for prop­erty own­ers.

Home own­er­ship is one of the big­gest in­vest­ments that most peo­ple make in their life. This reg­u­la­tion amend­ment would mean that your home’s value could drop dra­mat­i­cally overnight. Buy­ing a home in Har­bour Grace will now be a very risky fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment. The value of a home is de­ter­mined by such things as whether there are schools nearby, the amount of traf­fic in an area, and the amount of green space avail­able. Fam­i­lies con­sider th­ese things when de­cid­ing which home to buy and ex­pect if any­thing the value of their home will re­main the same or in­crease with time. If coun­cil moves for­ward with this reg­u­la­tion, a fam­ily’s dream home could eas­ily be­come a night­mare. They will have no pro­tec­tion should some­one de­cide to make a change against zon­ing reg­u­la­tions. Not only will the value of the home drop in that sce­nario, it will also be­come more dif­fi­cult to sell.

This reg­u­la­tion amend­ment will also make de­vel­op­ers think twice about in­vest­ing money in Har­bour Grace. De­vel­op­ers, like home­own­ers, will avoid in­vest­ing their money in projects and places where there are not reg­u­la­tions in place to pro­tect their in­vest­ment. For ex­am­ple, it would be risky for a de­vel­oper to build a beau­ti­ful sub­di­vi­sion with green space, parks and lovely homes. Be­fore the paint was dry on the last house, a slum land­lord could tear down one of th­ese beau­ti­ful homes and re­place it with a 20-storey apart­ment build­ing that only has room for park­ing two cars. With­out the min­i­mum land re­quire­ment, coun­cil­lors will not be able to stop this de­vel­op­ment. Not only would this de­value prop­er­ties, there would be se­ri­ous fire safety is­sues, which I will out­line in a sep­a­rate let­ter.

Reg­u­la­tions are meant to pro­tect the eco­nomic, phys­i­cal, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal qual­ity of life in Har­bour Grace. They should al­low home­own­ers and in­vestors to make in­formed de­ci­sions as to where to invest their money. Good reg­u­la­tion pro­vides a safe in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment for both de­vel­op­ers and home­own­ers, which ul­ti­mately re­sults in a pros­per­ous, at­trac­tive, and well-planned com­mu­nity that meets the needs of its cit­i­zens. The pro­posed reg­u­la­tion amend­ment will have a neg­a­tive fi­nan­cial ef­fect on just about ev­ery­one in this com­mu­nity.

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