The off-again, on-again development of a section of Maddox Cove Road is before council again tonight, with Petty Harbour neighbours renewing their objections.
Last month, St. John’s city council reversed a 2013 decision to reject a rezoning application that would allow property owners to build houses on their lots on the north side of Maddox Cove, next to the boundary with the town of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove.
Last year, the commissioner of a public hearing recommended the rejection of amendments to the Municipal Plan to allow the rezoning, concluding that more development along the road would “significantly detract from the rural nature of the road and thus its tourism value” and said the original zoning of the properties were instituted “to protect the rural and scenic nature of the properties in question and more broadly of the Maddox Cove Road area, and to prevent disorderly unplanned development of unserviced areas.”
With the rezoning back in front of councillors tonight — again to approve an amendment to the Municipal Plan, an amendment that would then need to be approved by the provincial department of municipal affairs — the leader of a group of Petty Harbour residents slammed council’s about-face.
“I don’t think anything should go there,” said Adrian Tanner, one of a group of Petty Harbour residents who submitted written concerns and spoke against the development at the public meeting.
“It’s the thin end of the wedge. Large or small lots, it’s the starting of development along that road that is, first of all, classified as a scenic road. There’s just no reason to disturb one of the few bits of wilderness land along a major highway in the city. A natural environment is being taken from us bit by bit as all of these developments are happening around St. John’s. The balance between green space and housing and industrial development has just gone totally out of whack in this city.”
Last month, Wally Collins, councillor for the area that includes the road, questioned the notion of the section as “scenic” and said the area in question is largely wooded with houses directly across the road already.
“The next time it turns scenic, as far as I’m concerned, because there’s houses all along there, is when you gets out almost to the lighthouse,” said Collins at the meeting where council reversed its decision.
Several Maddox Cove Road property owners attended that meeting and applauded council’s reversal.
“I bought that land probably 40 years ago for myself to build a home for myself and my wife,” said property owner Bernard Chafe in March.
“Purchased another piece of land. I have three kids. So what we decided to do, once they got old enough to be able to build a home, we’d give them the land, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do with it.”