Dispute over Torbay development

Dave Bartlett
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Resident worries about damage to wetland, mayor says buffer zone in place

Lee Harvey stands by Gosse’s Pond, not far from Bauline Line in Torbay. Harvey is concerned a proposed housing development, uphill from the pond, will damage waterways in the area. — Photo by Dave Bartlett/The Telegram

A Torbay man says he’s learned the hard way what happens when people don’t pay more attention to what their municipal council is doing.

Lee Harvey lives on Bauline Line and is upset that Torbay wants to rezone the wetland behind his home to allow for an unserviced development of about 10 homes.

While Harvey isn’t happy he will lose his view and a great deal of his privacy, he’s more concerned about the potential environmental damage to Great Pond, Gosse’s Pond and the river that runs between them.

Because the land slopes downhill, he said, the runoff of pesticides, detergents and sewage from the development will harm the waterways and wildlife.

Harvey’s neighbours on each side are a distance away — his land is quiet, almost secluded.

“If this development goes ahead, it’s going to literally take away my peace and serenity,” said Harvey.

He’s been fighting the development ever since he found out about it “through the grapevine,” and says the Torbay town council didn’t notify him.

Harvey said because of the seclusion of his “own little world” he wasn’t paying attention to what was going on with development around town until it affected him directly.

“When it happened in my backyard, it woke me up,” he said.

That’s when Harvey started going to council meetings. He said because members of the public don’t tend to follow what’s happening in the council chamber, the town is pushing through developments without being accountable enough to its residents.

Two of the seven members of council — Deputy Mayor Geoff Gallant and Coun. Ralph Tapper — have visited the area behind Harvey’s home and share some of his concerns. Harvey said the two recently asked council to defer the vote to rezone, but were voted down.

A number of residents in the town are also supporting Harvey’s cause, he said.

Harvey said the proposed homes would be on septic systems and he’s concerned all the town’s taxpayers will be on the hook for a cleanup of the “environmentally sensitive area” if one of the tanks leaks.

But Torbay Mayor Bob Codner told The Telegram Harvey doesn’t have all his facts straight.

Codner said council has great respect for the environment and has signed an agreement with a provincial body called the Eastern Habitat Joint Ventures to protect sensitive areas, including part of the land in question.

“We are conforming with the Eastern Habitat Joint Ventures plan, which was approved of by some of these people that are opposing (the development),” said Codner.

He said there is a 50-metre buffer zone around Gosse’s Pond in the plan, which the development can’t compromise.

The mayor also said there’s been no vote on rezoning yet, but it will likely happen soon. He said there could have been a suggestion to defer, but there was no motion.

In any case, Codner said deferring the vote for a few weeks won’t make any difference.

“There’s a general consensus that development should be curtailed in Torbay. I guess that is where all this is coming from,” he said.

Codner invited The Telegram to come to the town hall to look at various plans and rules.

“We have nothing to hide and I can assure you there is nobody in the town (who has) a bigger interest in the environment than I have,” he added.

When asked if he considered the development proposal to still be in its infancy, he replied that it was more like early adolescence.

Codner said the town has $70 million worth of projects that need to be done, including a new water treatment plant, municipal depot and community centre.

He said to meet those needs, Torbay either has to develop — to expand its tax base — or raise taxes.

“Anything we’re doing is compliant with our development regulations,” Codner said.

But late Thursday afternoon, the Department of Municipal Affairs confirmed for The Telegram it is looking into complaints regarding Torbay’s “public deliberation of issues and disclosure of decisions.”

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Eastern Habitat Joint Ventures, Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: Torbay, Great Pond

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Recent comments

  • Torbay Man
    June 14, 2011 - 06:39

    Well Lee Harvey. It was alright for you to build your house there!!! This is the only time you have raised issues with the wet lands. My guess is because you dont like neighbours. And I guess that you forgot to mention to people how you have been cutting trees down in that area for years, and the atv tracks that lead from your yeard down through the woods. I always thought that ATV'S destroyed wet lands, or am I wrong?

  • Evan Edinger
    April 27, 2011 - 18:29

    Once again, our town council has placed itself on the side of the narrow interests of the developers, and against the public interest of maintaining the environmental quality that makes Torbay attractive. This short-sighted mistake is entirely within character, but flies directly in the face of Torbay's municipal plan, which identifies Gosse's Pond as one of two critical wetlands. Quoting from the story, Mayor Codner recognized that "There’s a general consensus that development should be curtailed in Torbay. I guess that is where all this is coming from". As Mayor, his responsibility should be to respond to this consensus, particularly in cases where a development has the potential to impact a part of Torbay that has already been identified as environmentally important. If we are not careful, soon Torbay will lose many of the environmental characters that make it desirable. What then?

  • LYNN
    April 25, 2011 - 10:52

    I AGREE WITH MR. HARVEY , AND IT'S NOT A CASE OF NIMBY, HAVE A LOOK AT HIS WEBSITE ,WWW. SAVETORBAY.INFO. HE AND MANY OTHER VOLUNTEERS WITH TORBAY ENVIRONMENTAL TRAILS COMMITTEE, HAVE BEEN WORKING TIRELESSLY FOR YEARS TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE WETLANDS, GULLIES , WILDLIFE AND ECOSYSTEMS THAT SUSTAIN THEM. THE COUNCILS BOTH PAST AND PRESENT HAVE BEEN TOO QUICK TO RE-ZONE, AND DEVELOP THESE AREAS, REGARDLESS OF RESIDENT'S OPINIONS. IF TORBAY SIGNED ON TO AN AGREEMENT IN 1997 TO BE A PART OF A WETLAND CONSERVATION STEWARDSHIP PARTNERSHIP WITH A GOVERNMENT AGENCY, WHY AREN'T THEY LIVING UP TO THAT AGREEMENT? MR. CODNER STATED TORBAY IS THE SECOND FASTEST GROWING COMMUNITY ON THE AVALON, IT'S ALSO ONE OF THE DIRTIEST, MORE DEVELOPMENTS EQUATES MORE GARBAGE .

    • akakak
      April 25, 2011 - 14:04

      I disagree totally, Mr. Harvey has his own agena, If he is so concerned why did he built his property near the wetlands, he just does not want anyone living near him, if this is what he wants, he should buy a couple of acres of land and built there, then he would not have to worry about it.... TORBAY NEEDS MORE DEVELOPMENT, IT IS A GREAT AREA TO LIVE AND RAISE A FAMILY, THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HOME HERE, i WOULD RATHER HAVE MORE DEVELOPMENT THEN HIGHER TAXES.....

  • Derrick
    April 24, 2011 - 22:48

    Have you driven through Torbay and had a look at all the new houses and subdivisions springing up everywhere. Literally hundreds of houses with the majority of them on town supplied water and sewer services. All of this raw sewerage is indeed flowing untreated directly into the ocean via Torbay Beach. And you wonder why people dont hang out down there to have campfires and family gatherings. The majority of them probably come over to Middle Cove Beach to enjoy a nice clean sewerage free beach, unlike Torbays Beach which would wreak havoc on ones nostrils with an easterly wind. Real impressive Mr Codner and council and thanks alot for sending your crap over our way and to your other coastal neighbours. Gotta build your tax base in order to provide services to Torbay citizens ?? At What Cost ?????? I'm sure the majority of Torbay residents are embarrassed by their filthy beach and the conduct of it's elected officials who created this monster. Shame Shame Shame

  • cookie mcnugget
    April 24, 2011 - 12:38

    well mr. Harvey, i guess your haven is hell? thats not good to hear, but it IS evolution... Dont cry cause its happening there when it happens EVERYWHERE

  • Tell it like it is
    April 23, 2011 - 14:03

    I can hear the rally cries now ''Save um, Mr. Harvey's Swamp''!!! In all seriousness, I think Mr. Hermit just doesn't like neighbors. I've never once heard his name in the fight to save Sandy Pond, voicing concerns about Star Lake or the Lower Churchill development. Every day pristine wild ponds, rivers and cabins that are being encroached on by dwvwlopers who are looking to develop isolated and serene areas with only 10 M buffers, 50M would be a dream. This smells very much as NIMBY syndrome. Wrapping oneself in with an environmental flag for one's own selfish reasons gives those with true environmental concerns a bad name. It's actions like this by the self-interested that are preventing more meaningful regulation reform from taking place. I'd like to see a comprehensive land use policy governing all bodies of water in this province, not just the ones in Mr. Harvey's private back yard park.

    • LYNN
      April 25, 2011 - 11:30

      Correction from Lynn, the website is www.conservetorbay.info.

  • Randy from the ROCK
    April 23, 2011 - 13:10

    " While Harvey isn’t happy he will lose his view and a great deal of his privacy, he’s more concerned about the potential environmental damage to Great Pond, Gosse’s Pond and the river that runs between them." I guess you weren't so worried about the environment when you build your home. You started the process and now progress takes it from there.

  • Donny Dooley Dildo NL
    April 23, 2011 - 11:58

    How can mayor Codner say that nobody has a bigger interest in the environment when his town is dumping raw sewage into the ocean right next to the Torbay beach. There's a sign up warning residents that the beach is a hazzard and is closed. How sad is that in 2011?

  • T.Sanford
    April 23, 2011 - 11:04

    I don't think this IS a case of 'not in my backyard' (NIMBY) at all. Does this othewise pristine area area (Locally called the 'Gullies') which drains down stream into Flat Rock, need to be developed? Is there any benefit to the town or existing residents. Close to council there is genuine concern about a) How approvals for these variuos 'developments' are being processed and b) Whether they represent desirable and good planning of the town. Often it appears that the town (Torbay) council is in one deuced hurry to get and approve any any and all development put forward. But are we just just responding and are going to end up with ill planned development driven by developers who have moved on and left any problems for the town (residents). As a long time resident I am very concerned.

  • Lee Harvey
    April 23, 2011 - 10:06

    Below is a statement from the letter Eastern Habitat Joint Venture responed to The Town Of Torbay regarding this Proposed Development! Please note that under the existing Stewardship Agreement, the propoed development is located with the Stewardship Zone, Where the Town of Torbay is to use it own discretion as to what constitutes "wise use" of wetlands and associated uplands which would be inpacted be the proposed development activities. When you see the words "wise use" would you not think council would visit this environmentally sensitive area! I have invited Council to come visit the area. As of today two out of seven council members have visited this area. Lee Harvey

  • james
    April 23, 2011 - 09:14

    as long as it is not in my back yard

  • Mike
    April 23, 2011 - 07:47

    We have been having the same problems in Paradise for years now. Expand the tax base no matter what the cost to the environment. Codner can claim that the council is not breaking any rules but citizens - voters - can see right through his arguments. We see thru the same BS Wiseman and other councillors throw at us here in Paradise.

  • Robert
    April 23, 2011 - 06:33

    Sounds more like ''not in my back yard'' - literally!