The damage is already done, resident says

City of St. John’s takes legal action against development in Portugal Cove-St.Philip’s

Bonnie Belec
Published on August 27, 2013
The City of St. John’s has initiated legal action against the developer of this land in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s,  saying the land is in the city’s watershed area.
— Submitted photo

At least two residents of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s are relieved the City of St. John’s has taken legal action against a development in the town, but they say it’s too little, too late.

“Most of the houses on this road have minimal amount of clearing, but in this case the two sites have been totally and irreparably wiped out,” said Stephen Andrews, who lives near the controversial development on Oliver’s Pond Road with his wife, Emir Andrews.

“The damage has been done now,” Emir said.

A statement of claim filed against David Jackman, identified as the owner of 218-238 Oliver’s Pond Road, and Cadillac Services Ltd., identified only as a business registered to operate in the province, says the two defendants failed to abide by stop work orders issued by the city.

St. John’s is also seeking an injunction to prevent further development of the site which it claims is in the Windsor Lake watershed — one of the city’s sources for drinking water.

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.

On July 16, the city wrote Jackman and the town advising them of the city’s jurisdiction over the land. Ten days later, St. John’s issued a stop work order.

The clearing of the property continued, says the statement of claim.

Four days ago the city issued a second stop work order and advised that if the work didn’t cease, legal action would be taken.

Work continued, says the court document, and on Friday the city filed a statement of claim and an application for an injunction.

The matter is scheduled to be called in Newfoundland Supreme Court Thursday.

Chris Milley, town manager of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, told The Telegram Monday afternoon two permits were issued for 218-238 Oliver’s Pond Road on July 4 for site preparation.

“Basically permits for clearing and grubbing the land. To prepare the lots to get them ready for building,” he said.

The permits are for two homes which make up about two acres. Milley said because the construction is in a residential rural zone, one-acre lots are required.

He said the land is on the boundary of the St. John’s watershed. Milley said the town was aware that the city issued stop work orders and was aware the developer ignored them.

“I guess it’s the city of St. John’s stop work orders. If they had to have been our stop work orders put in place we would act upon them to get them to stop and probably do whatever the city of St. John’s is going to do to get them to stop,” he said.

Milley said there are no stop work orders in place from the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s.

Andrews said he has many questions about how the development came about. He said one is how the city of St. John’s got involved after the town gave approval to homes being built in the watershed area. Another is the manner in which the land has been cleared.

“It’s a development in our community that is affecting the development of our community. We’re here trying to maintain some degree of rural character and this looks like a development in the city of St. John’s,” he said.

Emir Andrews said it looks as though it’s been cleared for a subdivision.

“My primary concern is the interference with the watershed area, but I’m not one bit happy about the clear-cutting of the land. It is totally out of character of the neighbourhood and the community,” she said.

“Supposedly the goals of the community are to maintain the rural character,” said Emir Andrews.  

“When we built our house we cut the trees with a chainsaw and an axe. As many trees for our house and septic tank is all that has been cleared on our land, and most of the houses in here are like that,” she said.

The city of St. John’s communications department said,  “A statement of claim has been issued together with an application for interlocutory injunction against the property owner and the contractor. As such, no further statement on this matter will be made at this time.”