Mixed Signals

Alisha Morrissey
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Proposed Signal Hill development actually on Crown land, city finds

Members of the group Save Our Signal Hill held a rally on Murphy’s Right of Way Tuesday afternoon protesting any subdivision for the area. Members of the group Save Our Signal Hill held a rally on Murphy’s Right of Way Tuesday afternoon protesting a

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.


Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Signal Hill

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Recent comments

  • Patrick
    October 10, 2010 - 13:55

    All you have to do is look at Mount Pearl, Southlands, Kilbride and the Goulds to see wonderful examples of out of control development with little if any concern for the loss of prime agricultural land.

  • Elizabeth
    October 10, 2010 - 10:33

    Just another example of how the majority of councillors treat developers as if they are above the law of city development regulations. This one is so extreme that there was no way they could cover it up. This attitude is ruining the historic part of of our city. A development plan that recognizes the value of our natural landscape and the historic architecture could mean that future citizens will live in a city we can be proud of. Renovations like the Bluedrop building on Prescott are an example of the way forward. There is no need for more embarrassments like the Humphrey Gilbert Building, the TD building, Atlantic Place, the Mile One stadium, and the hideous office towers on New Gower St. If St. John's need cheap, ugly office space, put it out on Kelsey or Stavanger Drive where the landscape is already ruined.

  • cher
    October 09, 2010 - 20:49

    someone needs to start a petiton and put it in all public places for people who are against the building development to sign to show city council just how many of their citizens are against it , i think its a digrace to ruin such a historical place ,one of few left in st.john's, theres plenty of other land to build on leave signal hill alone .

  • Starr
    October 09, 2010 - 14:07

    Isn't Signal Hill our heritage? why should anyone be given any of it to build on? There's more than enough there now. Leave it alone.

  • Louise French
    October 09, 2010 - 13:03

    I don't believe the mindset of the developers in Newfoundland and across the country!!. Who in hell do they think they are? A lovely piece of scenic land drives them nuts until they can get something built on it. To make matters worse they are often encouraged by some money grabbing city council. I thought when that building diisgrace was orchestrated in Quidi Vidi that it would be the end of this outrageous behaviour. It is time that the City Of St.John's make it clear with a bylaw that no building will be permitted in the city in places that are scenic and enjoyed by the public. Some Yam Yack is going to want to build a place up by Cabot Tower next!

  • Downtowner
    October 09, 2010 - 12:48

    Frank Galgay needs to make a statement how he stood in up council and approved this development as this debacle took place in his ward.

  • Cathy
    October 09, 2010 - 10:45

    Cant they just leave signal hill alone? Must they build everywhere? People go to signal hill to enjoy the view , not to look in the backyards of people.

  • francis
    October 09, 2010 - 10:17

    someone please explain to me how this developer came to believe that they owned the land in the first place? am i living in bizarro world where we are all on a crazy ride on the "party bus" to no where? (driven by a drunken clown named Frank Calgay)