Proposed change to development regulations will hurt Harbour Grace
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.