Says he will ask town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s to examine rezoning
A councillor with the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s is doing what he is told.
Coun. Joe Butler told The Telegram Monday that when he was campaigning for a seat on council this summer, before the September election, he was told by residents that the town is growing too fast and is at risk of losing its rural charm.
He will introduce a motion this evening during a council meeting that intends to slow down some development — at least until after the new town plan is approved by the Department of Municipal Affairs.
A Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s councillor is hoping to introduce a motion to council tonight that will make planners take a second look at rezoning land in the town for development. — Submitted file photo
The motion says “that council shall not consider any applications for rezoning any area of the town for the development of a subdivision until the new PCSP (Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s) town plan has been approved and adopted.”
Butler said the current town plan is outdated, more than 10 years old, and there are several hundred building lots already approved for future development, so the motion won’t have any effect on those.
“The concern reflects what I was told during campaigning by the residents, and the concern is that we’ve got very rapid development,” he said.
“That was the No. 1 campaign issue I came across — people live there for the rural character and how do you maintain that properly? So I think it is really important to slow things down, just a shade, get the policy right and try to have a balance between that rural versus development,” said Butler.
Some residents of the town were up in arms in July over a controversial development on Oliver’s Pond Road which the City of St. John’s claims is in the Windsor Lake watershed — one of the city’s sources for drinking water.
People were upset because they say the area, which was once filled with mature trees and a small pond, has been clear-cut as if it was for a subdivision and not two houses.
The City of St. John’s issued two stop-work orders before filing a claim against David Jackman, identified as the owner of 218-238 Oliver’s Pond Rd., and Cadillac Services Ltd., identified only as a business registered to operate in the province. The city was granted an interim injunction in September when the matter was called before Newfoundland Supreme Court.
According to the court documents, it says Jackman received approval from the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s in February to develop the land despite it being in the watershed area which prohibits certain developments. One of which is home building.
The case is in the pre-trial stages. A date has not yet been set to hear the matter.
Butler said the development certainly hit a chord with some residents.
He said he believes the way to maintain a rural setting in the town is through policy.
“I don’t like to look at it as a perspective of four years. I like to look at a perspective of generations, a vision. So when we are finished developing, what will it look like when the town is full? We have to make policy so that when it is full it still has trails and rural aspects to it so people still want to live there,” he said.
“That’s my long-term vision. I might not be around in 20 years, but if I’m going to spend four years on council I’d at least try to pull us in the right direction because I think we have run amok. I’m sitting here representing what people told me to do.
“I have two things I belive in which we don’t do enough of particularly at the municipal level, communicate openly and honestly and being transparent,” said Butler.
He notified council of his intention to introduce the motion two weeks ago. It is expected to be introduced tonight and debated at the Dec. 3 council meeting.