The City of St. John’s says the developers trying to build a subdivision on Signal Hill don’t own the land on which they’d like to build.
The legal department for the City of St. John’s has confirmed that a title search on the Murphy’s Right of Way has determined the land is actually Crown land.
Acting city solicitor Linda Bishop says according to city development regulations a developer may not build on land that doesn’t belong to them, meaning the approval to build has essentially been nullified.
Bishop says the developer can go to the province for a Crown land grant, but handing over the land would also need the approval of council.
Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff and Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary — both originally opposed to the eight-lot subdivision development — said they were happy with the news.
Duff tabled the document disputing ownership of the land at last Monday night’s council meeting.
The document, later acquired by The Telegram, appears to say the city owned the property — at least as of November 1949 — and it was leasing it to a man called Alexander Earle at a rate of $10 a year.
The legal department found no evidence that the land had ever been sold to anyone else.
At Tuesday’s meeting O’Leary plans to table a motion to rescind the decision made Sept. 20 to allow the subdivision.
A memo has been sent out to the developer explaining what has happened and asking them to provide all the documentation they have for the land.
The onus will now be on the proponent, Myles Leger, to prove that they own the land.
Bill Clarke, one of the developers on the Murphy’s Right of Way project, refused comment when contacted Friday.
An ad hoc group created to oppose the development are supposed to have a rally on Oct. 17 to encourage council to change their minds about the proposal.
That group could not be reached by press time.