Council divided again on seniors’ development
Harbour Grace offers tax incentive in exchange for water and sewer system
Harbour Grace town council members are once again at odds with each other over a seniors’ development in the community.
At last Wednesday’s council meeting, a motion was approved to provide a tax incentive to Reynolds Management, the company responsible for a seniors’ complex on Doyle’s Lane in Riverhead.
In exchange, the developer will pay for the installation of a water and sewer system that will bring service to that road up to town standards. Once that work is finished, the town will take ownership of that infrastructure.
The tax incentive’s maximum value is $125,000. Coun. Hayward Blake, co-chair of the economic development committee, told fellow council members that the arrangement is cost-effective, calling it an investment for the town.
“We want to grow our town,” he said last Wednesday. “We want to bring new people into our town. We want to improve our infrastructure in terms of water and sewer and roads. This development will bring new citizens to our town.
“It will bring people who will shop here, eat at our restaurants, and this road will also enable further development on the parcels of land beyond Doyle’s (Lane), which could bring back to the town substantial amounts of money based on the number of parcels of land that are actu- ally sold there.”
The council previously introduced and adopted a regulation change to remove minimum land requirements for seniors’ developments to accommodate the Doyle’s Lane proposal.
Councillors Tony McCarthy and Kathy Tetford, who both opposed that regulation change, also spoke out against the tax incentive. McCarthy said the move goes against past practices and could set a precedent that’s not in the town’s best interest.
Finance committee chair Tetford agreed.
“I do have a fear that we’re opening a can of worms, because any development is a development (and) any developer is a developer — a garage, one unit, 10 units — it’s a development,” she said.
“And whether you spend $1.5 million on one unit or $1.5 mil- lion on 10 units, they should all be treated the same. I’m just hoping that by making this motion … the town is prepared to accept all requests that come in for tax incentives or tax writeoffs for development.”
The motion was approved by a vote of five-to-two, with McCarthy and Tetford the lone dissenting parties. Tetford later gave notice that she intends to introduce a motion at the next meeting calling on council to incorporate a similar incentive package in the town’s tax structure for all forms of development.
“The reason for that motion is in fairness to all residents,” she said.
The next council meeting is scheduled for May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Harbour Grace town councillors Tony McCarthy and Kathy Tetford voted against a motion to offer a tax incentive to the developer of a seniors’ complex on Doyle’s Lane in Riverhead.