City holds public hearing on allowing development above the 190-metre contour

Dave Bartlett
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Sam Bromley was the only person who spoke out against the City of St. John’s plan to allow development above the 190-metre contour at a public hearing Tuesday night. Bromley said he represented people in his neighbourhood of Kenmount Terrace and asked councillors to reject the amendments and instead preserve the wooded hillsides of the city as green space. — Photo by Dave Bartlett/The Telegram.

Only one person who spoke at a public hearing in St. John’s Tuesday night voiced opposition to allowing development above the 190-metre contour.

The city wants to rezone two large areas of land above that elevation — one that stretches from Southlands to Cochrane Pond and another which straddles the top of Kenmount Road — from rural or reserve to urban development.

The province had imposed a ban on development above the 190-metre contour, as water has to be pumped up to supply homes and businesses at that height.

Chris Sharpe was appointed commissioner by the city and province to oversee the hearing and write a report on what people think of the amendments.

Sharpe noted the city has yet to receive any formal proposals to develop the areas, and that the meeting was only to gather concerns or comments on the rezoning.

The city’s director of planning, Cliff Johnston, told the meeting an engineering study gave no technical reasons not to develop above the 190-metre contour, and that was verified by a 2009 report commissioned jointly by the City of Mount Pearl and the Town of Paradise.

Johnston said the Kenmount Road area being considered for re­zoning is 381 hectares, while the area near Southlands is another 877 hectares.

But he said even if council passes the amendments, no development would be given approval until city engineers determine for certain the areas can be serviced by municipal water.

Johnston also said no land would be removed from the city‘s watershed area and that waterways and wetlands in the two areas would be protected.

About 100 people attended the meeting, but only a handful spoke.

Stephen Jewczyk, the director of planning with the City of Mount Pearl, said his city had no objection to the proposed amendment changes. But he said Mount Pearl is interested to see the specifics of the developments which may end up in the areas.

Several development companies represented at the meeting already had submitted written submissions to Sharpe and declined further comment, while developer Kevin King called the amendments “positive news for St. John’s.”

The St. John’s Board of Trade also likes the idea and wants the ban on development above the 190-metre contour lifted.

“We believe it will result in a significant benefit to the city and to the region,” said board chairman Steve Power.

Power said there’s already a demand for well-planned commercial and industrial development areas.

The only person who spoke out against the amendments was Sam Bromley, who represented a group of  people who live in the Kenmount Terrace area.

“While hilltop vistas certainly demand top dollar and profit for developers and real estate proponents, the consequence of building a structure (from) where you can see the whole city is the whole city can see you,” he said.

Bromley asked the city to reject the amendments and instead preserve the character and beauty of the green spaces on the city’s hilltops.

He also noted there’s an online petition against the rezoning, which can be found at www.protectstjohns.com.

As of Tuesday night, 33 people had signed that petition.

Affordable housing advocate Kimberly Yetman Dawson of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network also spoke up.

She asked the city to consider making one in every 10 residences built in the areas affordable, which she defined as having a mortgage costing no more than one-third of an average person’s salary.

Sharpe expects to file his report with the city and province within 30 days. City council will then vote on whether or not to pass the amendments.

 

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Board of Trade, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing

Geographic location: Southlands, Kenmount Road, Mount Pearl Kenmount Terrace

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  • sally
    March 19, 2013 - 18:22

    And nobody else ever thought that hilltops actually get a lot of our rainfall and by cutting down trees and paving / bulldozing large areas this isn't going to increase our already increasing flooding problems in st.johns.... Cause these engineers have never been wrong before or anything.... or maybe just told to look the other way.... sketchy....

  • Sam Bromley
    February 16, 2012 - 09:16

    Of the many people I've spoke with who are opposed to developments above 190m, not one of them were opposed to development nor change in general. To portray their views as a blanket fear of change is naive at best, and disingenuous at worst. Growth of St. John's is a positive thing. Bulldozing entire green spaces, including the top of hills visible from the entire City, is not a responsible means to pursue growth. Once can be strongly opposed to such short-sighted development while being strongly supportive of development in general. The fact is that the lands above 190m are prized precisely because they offer such views of the City, but consequently this implies that the destruction of the green space is visible from the entire City. This is about intelligent and well-planned change and growth. It has nothing to do with fear.

    • Chris Chafe
      February 16, 2012 - 19:48

      Mr. Bromley, your love for "greenery" certainly did not stop you from buying a property that was once a vast area of "greenery". Very hypocritical on your part and others in your neighborhood.

    • Sam Bromley
      February 24, 2012 - 08:13

      Dear Mr. Chafe, Thank you for you comment. Please carefully read all of my statements regarding growth and what I would like to have preserved. My property in Kenmount Terrace is far below the 190m elevation. My statements are about balance. While I appreciate the passion you express in calling me a hypocrite, I do hope that you have equal verve in seeking truth, avoiding hyperbole, and engaging in responsible and factual discourse.

  • StrangeHappenings
    February 16, 2012 - 01:03

    I don't think anyone was aware and given it was held the same week as PUB hearings on Muskrat Falls?? Was this also rushed through quietly by O'keefe or someone? Maybe you should hold another one and inform the public ahead.

  • TJ
    February 15, 2012 - 09:54

    Why are people afraid of development? It's a part of moving ahead with the times,and that can be done and still keep the integrity and charm of the city. I just don't understand what the problem is, the younger generations are not afraid of change!