Monday, April 29, 2013

Amending We Will Go -- Assessing the Cost of Changing the Municipal Plan



Clarenville's latest Municipal Plan was proclaimed just over a year ago after a fairly comprehensive consultation and development process.  Essentially the Municipal Plan process maps out how the town will grow for the next decade by establishing a vision and regulations for that growth.  According to the legislation: 

the council responsible for that area shall proceed with the development of a municipal plan and development regulations.`...The plan shall:(a) include a statement of the objectives of the plan;(b) indicate the policies to be implemented under the plan;(c) divide land into land use classes and the use that may be made in each class and shall include prohibited uses of land;(d) include proposals for land use zoning regulations;(e) include proposals for the implementation of the plan;(f) provide provisions with respect to non-conforming uses; and(g) provide for the development of the planning area for a 10 year period.

Since the latest edition of Clarenville`s Municipal Plan was proclaimed in 2011, there have been a number of amendments proposed & passed (See ad above).  Together these amendments have resulted in significant changes to the land use designation for key areas of our Town.

Of particular concern to me is the theme of changing previously protected areas into unprotected areas. Just in this latest series of proposed amendments, key defined areas of our town are being proposed to change from `tourism` to `industrial` (White Hills Road) ;  `protected` to `residential` (Balbo Drive & Summerville Heights) and `water supply’ to `residential`(Huntley Drive).  These proposed amendments  point to a worrisome trend of sacrificing what we originally agreed upon to protect in favour of development.  We need development but developers seem bent to changing the rules to suit their needs.  If the rules are so flexible and unimportant that they can be changed so easily and so frequently it begs the question – why exactly do we have development regulations in the first placeƉ

I don’t want to stand in the way of development, but I do want to make sure that any development is well thought out and that a solid case is made for any change in regulations.  I`m worried about this ease of change and you should worry about this too.

There is a social and financial cost to bad planning

Our track record on sound development has not been pretty and allowing further rough shot development to continue will do little to enhance the quality of life for the people in this community.  Further, taxpayers have been on the hook for mistakes of the past and they will be on the hook for future mistakes as well.   

You only have until May 2 to understand the issue and write your comments.  Don`t let the opportunity pass by. 

MY LETTER




May 1, 2013

The Town of Clarenville
99 Pleasant Street
Clarenville, NL

Dear Town and Councillors:

I would like to express my concern over the package of proposed amendments to the Town of Clarenville` s Municipal Plan and Development Regulations.

It is my understanding that the purpose of the Municipal plan is to establish the areas that the Town agrees are suitable for development and more importantly, it specifies the areas that the Town wants to protect.

The proposal of converting so many areas that were deemed `protected` to areas for that are deemed `unprotected` and suitable for development is wrong and defeats the spirit and intent of the planning process – especially in light of the fact that we are only a short time into the planning period.  In fact, I would argue that the dozen amendments that have been proposed or made have made the planning process and the plan irrelevant.

I am especially concerned about the proposal to change a previously deemed Water Supply and Public Use are of Huntley Drive to Residential.  Essentially this change tells me that our water supply will be encroached on and this could lead to contamination of our Town`s drinking water.  Further development at the end of Huntley Drive will further increase the traffic load on a high traffic, single exit subdivision.    (I do appreciate that this is a good area for development but it needs to be planned.  At current growth levels I could envisage pressure over the next 20 years for development to push towards Joes Pond.  Developers proposing such a plan must be taxed now in order to create a pool of money for the purpose of moving the water supply intake further up the river.)

I am also concerned with the proposal to make the White Hills Tourism area an Industrial site.  This begs the question:  Are we really serious about developing winter tourism in Clarenville.  As a community we have invested a lot of time and energy into winter tourism and I am not prepared to see yet another part of our town turned into an industrial park. (My point may be moot seeing that industrial quarrying is going full tilt on White Hills Road already.)      

The fact that we have, or have proposed, a dozen changes to a planning document that is less than 2 years old, indicates to me that we have a very serious planning problem in Clarenville.   It`s time to address the issue, not make it worse.

Thank you
Paul Tilley





3 comments:

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  2. Well I wonder what is going on here then. And as for comprehensive - as a designer/architecturally educated professional - there has been no sign of any comprehensive development in the town that doesn't even possess a set of progressive building bylaws.

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