During a public hearing held at the town hall in Carbonear on Thursday night, Oct. 5, residents of the town, as well as Crocker’s Cove, were present to learn more about the amendment changes, and to take advantage of the opportunity to share their thought, and ask questions.
Besides residents, the meeting also saw all members of the newly elected Carbonear council, as well as appointed commissioner Elaine Mitchell, and planner Mary Bishop, who made a short presentation detailing the meeting, as well as the planned changes in the town’s amendment regarding the area in question. Proponents for the project, James Bailie, and Janet Whittle-Bailie, were not present at the meeting.
The hotel, currently billed as Hotelle @ Crocker’s Cove, is looking to be built just off of Burnt Head Road in Crocker’s Cove. The 50,000 square-foot building plans to hold up to 50 rooms, all with a view of the ocean. Alongside this, plans for the building include a lobby bar, espresso bar, and an art gallery.
The amendment in question proposes to rezone a two-hectare area from conservation to medium-density residential, and to make hotels a permitted use of the land.
As Thursday night’s meeting got underway, Mitchell noted that her role as commissioner was to hear any objections residents might have for the amendment. From there, she was to prepare a report with a recommendation for or against the proposed amendment. Council will review, and can either accept or deny the recommendation.
Chris Baird was the first resident to speak at the meeting, having sent a written statement to council previously. Baird explained that he lives along Burnt Head Road, and would be the closest home to the hotel, were it constructed. Baird brought several concerns to the table, noting multiple objections to the building’s construction.
“Former council has gone against its own regulations regarding conservation,” Baird said as he sat across from Mitchell. “Under section 2.2.10, it states that council intends to protect and preserve these areas from development in the interest of public enjoyment and safety. I think they’re going right against their own regulations on that by even considering putting a hotel in this area.”
Baird went on to express several concerns regarding the hotel’s construction, namely the building’s size, which he felt was still up in the air due to a lack of site plans, floor plans, or scaled drawings. He felt there was not enough information for council to go by.
“Until they get that kind of information, they have no idea what they’re dealing with,” said Baird. “It’s a massive structure to put on that point. A parking area for a building that size would require a minimum of 100 vehicles, and you’re looking at roughly 30,000 square-feet for an asphalt parking area. I’m basically going to have a parking lot in my backyard.”
The parking lot alone raised a number of concerns for Baird, who listed things such as light and noise pollution, and a constant daylight effect from lights in the lot, which he felt would be visible to everyone on Burnt Head Road.
Another major concern brought forward by Baird was in relation to an access road leading to the hotel. Right now, no proper road has been constructed that connects Burnt Head Road to the proposed area of construction. During development of the land, such an access road would be built, which Baird says poses a number of safety issues in the area. Alongside this, an access road would require a 15-metre right-of-way into the area, which could result in Baird possibly losing up to 40-feet of his own property.
“(The access road) is going to be coming off of the u-turn. You’re looking at a roughly 170-degree turn that you’re going to come down to get back out to Burnt Head Road. I don’t think there’s any way possible that you can, by any municipal standards, put in an access road on that turn,” said Baird, who went on to explain that, as of right now, the turn along Burnt Head Road poses vision problems to drivers going up the hill. Baird said that with an access road added to the equation, drivers are going to need to take even more precautions when driving through the area, noting that driving the posted speed limit will no longer be possible without running the risk of an accident with other vehicles, or with pedestrians who frequent the area.
“If this building goes up, there will be absolutely no peace and enjoyment down in that area anymore,” said Baird. “If we wanted to live on a parking lot, we would have built a home down on TC Square.”
Baird was not the only one who had written to the town, detailing their concerns. Priscilla Pike, who was unable to attend the meeting, also sent in a letter.
Mitchell read the letter aloud, hoping that Bishop would be able to address some of Pike’s concerns.
Pike’s letter detailed one major concern of hers – the preservation of habitats for butterflies and other wildlife species that can be found in the area. According to the letter, the Department of Forestry and Land Resources recommends 20-metres around the point be retained and left in a natural state to ensure continuation of the habitat.
“When we received this submission from the initial public notice, we contacted the provincial department responsible for wildlife. We asked for some guidance on whether this species and its significance – was it on any endangered species lists, or how this development would otherwise impact them,” said Bishop, in response to Pike’s concerns. “We received some advice from them that the species isn’t endangered – it’s fairly common along the coastline.”
Though some concerns were brought forth from residents on Thursday night, the hotel has seen relatively positive feedback on social media, with many seemingly in favour of the idea, noting the potential economic benefits such a building would bring to the community.
Bailie and Whittle-Bailie aim to have all approvals in place within the following months, and although they do not intend to begin any construction on the property until then, the developers hope to have the hotel up and running in 2020.