Tag Archives: zoning

A letter

This is a letter we saw in the Advertiser a few days ago [Feb 8]. We couldn’t find a link so we are copying it out.

The Valley: Not much here to look at

It wasn’t for lack of effort our Valley’s tourist value will be soon finished – right about when all the roadside developments are!

I thank Leslie Wade and the organizers and councillors who have continued to fight the good fight to maintain farmland.

However, thanks to Kings County council’s vote Feb. 1 tourists now will be able to drive up from Halifax to see – strip malls and backyard swings! Really worth the drive.

Isn’t it wonderful four already fortunate, long term land-owning heirs were allowed (by some unresponsive councillors and a warden) to take their family legacy from their own heirs, and the most beautiful views of the Valley from the public? Chaching!

Shame on those councillors and our warden.

It is signed with the writer’s name and a location indicated as Grand Pre.

Let us think about Grand Pre for a minute. It has a gas station, and a motel and cafe, and a couple of wineries with shops attached, one with a restaurant, an antique store or two, B & Bs, a horse stable, and nearby JustUs coffee roastery and the Tangled Gardens shop/factory which makes jams, jellies etc. It also has a major interpretive centre. These are commercial or institutional establishments. It also has some recent residential building (duplexes). We suspect none of these “developments” (except perhaps the stable) would be allowed presently in the farmland zoning the SOS people are fighting to keep.

Does Mr. Robinson LIKE Grand Pre? We suspect he does. Does he consider it attractive to tourists? We do. Perhaps Greenwich might like to “develop” some of those things as well. Would a market similar to Pete’s Frootique be attractive? Perhaps a good bakery? Tourists are attracted by “things to do” not just by “views” of farmland.

Why is it that the land west of Eden Row can be “developed” but not the land east of Eden Row?

We think what the writer is worried about is the TYPE of development (“strip malls and back-yard swings”). That is yet to be approved and  is still up for debate and input. Supporting infrastructure is an issue. It is hoped good decisions will be made.

And we think the bee keeper could be grandfathered.


More on farms

David Daniels, one of our regular readers, made a submission at the recent meeting on the re-zoning of Greenwich land . He has sent his full presentation to us for publication since media reports of necessity leave out much of the detail. It is 39 pages and in pdf format so we have attached it as a link below rather than copy it all in.

Daniels submission

We do copy below this portion – what Mayor Stead said the Town concerns were.

In a letter to then Warden Fred Whalen, dated October 25, 2010, the Mayor of the Town of Wolfville, Robert Stead, sets out the Town’s concerns about the proposal and why it may have a negative impact upon the Town and the general region.  The concerns are: (1) Infrastructure costs.  It would be better for development to take place in existing growth centres in Kings County.  “There is likely significant extra capacity within all the Kings County growth centres including the Towns of Kentville and Berwick.  Development can take place in the existing growth centres without the need to extend off site services and in many cases infill development can take place without the need for any additional on-site services as well.”  (2) There is a need to preserve all farmland. The proposal’s attempt to preserve best soils through the designation of Urban Agriculture will likely not achieve that end.  (3) Development in existing growth centres has sustainability advantages.  (4) Social/Cultural Issues.  The existing growth centres represent the heart of social and cultural interaction and the creation of another growth centre will weaken the existing growth centres. (5) Lifestyle/Health Issues. “Development in Greenwich, away from the existing commercial centres, will not encourage this healthy lifestyle.”

Our emphasis, not Mr. Daniels.  And here is our Translation:”‘Canada Lives Here‘ in Wolfville and that’s the way it should stay even though it costs an arm and a leg. We need the taxes so we can continue spending like there is no tomorrow.”

We wish these issues were adjudicated rationally instead of with the emotion betrayed at the meeting. Candles and a soulful rendition of Amazing Grace are sweet but don’t cut the mustard when it comes to significant decisions like this one.

Berwick’s budget

Berwick’s budget process got a lot of print in the Advertiser of June 8th. Our impression is that, if the report is anything near the truth, there was a lot more fight to cut costs there than in Wolfville, where the process seemed to be rushed through and where everyone just rolled over and said yes, sir, aye sir. There actually seems to be a desire in Berwick to reduce the tax burden on residents. Amazing.

Councillors decided they’d eliminate travel and conference allowances, for example. Wolfville must feel fairly flush financially as our Mayor and Councillors haven’t resorted to such a drastic measure.

Of course there some things in the report which are discouraging.  For example, Councillor Don Clarke apparently said –  “Berwick needs to ‘hold the line’ on tax rates‘. How many times have we heard that weary, old line. As if that held the line on taxes! If Sara Keddy’s report is accurate Clarke then said:

We’re higher than Wolfville or Kentville, even Halifax – don’t add to the tax rate until we absolutely have to.

Oh, dear. How long, how long, will it be before councillors (in charge of our money) get it through their heads that the tax rate is not taxes. The tax rate is a meaningless measure of relative tax burdens between municipalities. There was a page in the Wolfville budget document to show how Wolfville tax rates compared with neighbouring towns. Why? It was a waste of a page. Was the graph meant to deceive taxpayers or is  our CAO woefully uneducated about how property taxes work? But we digress. Back to Berwick.

It didn’t take long for Councillor Clarke in Berwick to be corrected by Mayor John Prall who responded that “Wolfville has a lower rate, but assessments are higher; meaning the town [Wolfville] had the second highest tax burden in the province.”

That bears repeating – the second highest tax burden in the province. We feel this administration won’t be happy until Wolfville is first in this also, as it is in so many other areas.

You mustn’t think however that Berwick’s administration is benign. Anyone buying a house in Berwick should beware; they have seemingly just thrown R1 zoning out the window.

Berwick’s “embarrassing” language

We often notice what is happening in municipalities around even if we don’t always comment but a recent bit in the Advertiser is of interest, and may have ramifications here. This is the headline that caught our eye:

Old language not illegal, just embarrassing

We wondered what kind of embarrassment that could be, but as we read on we learned that it was about more than merely language. Apparently municipal zoning can no longer be counted on and not only that but forget about being notified about development proposals in your vicinity.

Cleaning up ‘conflict of language’ is behind a new piece of business before Berwick Council. Following a contentious public hearing and successful second reading approving two duplexes in a R1 neighbourhood [emph ours – Yes, you read that right! Ww] earlier in November, councillors reacted to public comments property owners weren’t specifically notified of the proposed changes. They almost didn’t pass the development, but felt in the end it was an acceptable project and the process had been fair.

So there it is. If it’s an “acceptable project” zoning is out the window! Odd, we always thought that what was deemed “acceptable” depended on the zoning not the other way round!!!!

And what about the fair process bit? It seems things have changed. They don’t have to let homeowners know – at least not the same way they used to. The CAO Bob Ashley and the town planner Chris Miller put it this way:

We haven’t notified neighbouring property owners since 2000″ Ashley said, when the province replaced municipality specific land use bylaws with upgraded Municipal Government Act public participation programs … the intent was public participation would be guided by the MGA.

Emph ours. Bylaws replaced? Didn’t we just spend plenty to produce a new MPS and LUB? Is this just bad reporting? Do they mean just notification bylaws? Even then. Who knew? And what is this not so new process?

In the application process for the project behind this concern, Miller followed the newer program for public notification: newspaper [who reads them anymore?]and posting in the town hall [because residents go there every week?] And they call this an “upgrade“?  [????????????????]

Now we get to that “embarrassing” language that shows everyone that what you had before was better than the “upgrade”:

Ashley and Miller advised council to remove the section that says the town “shall” send letters to property owners within 500 feet of the development.

We used to think that “shall” had the force of law in a bylaw – and maybe it still has. We think the R1 residents of Berwick should not let this go unchallenged. It is not just a change of language – it is a change of process and a change in responsibility.

Councillor Anthony Morse asked whether this change in policy language would change the town’s position should there be an appeal of its decision on the recent project at a higher level.

“No”, said Ashley “but [sic] citing the LUB wouldn’t be concrete grounds to overturn council’s decisions. We did follow the public participation program.”

This is not what we would call open government, Mr. Ashley.

Councillor Don Clarke suggested adding other means of public notification to the town’s public process – through its website, a town bulletin board, letters to property owners if desired. “We shouldn’t over react, but we should make our public participation as good as it should be.”*

That would upgrade the “upgrade” to what it was before!!! And why not? The MGA doesn’t limit this we don’t suppose.

*This article is not online that we could see but you can read the rest in the Advertiser of Dec. 8th page 5 – “news on the go.”

Wolfville in Frank 533

WOLFVILLE ZONES OUT is the headline of a quarter page in Frankland’s latest offering. The item (by Bo-Ring) reports on Council’s rezoning attempt and the residents resistance to the idea of eliminating the R1 zone and folding it into the R-1A zone.

Many feel the proposed rezoning makes it financially attractive for developers to Continue reading

R1 elimination not “toast”

The meeting of PSPAC at the school the other day seemed in some ways a waste of time because despite the deputy mayors assertion that the R1 and density proposals were “toast” and “gone”, “off the table”, they are not. They are only postponed. [It feels rather like Quebec separation, don’t it?] This is thanks to one lady on the committee who insisted that the suggestion in Wrye’s proposal about future discussion on the issue was too open ended. [The same lady who slapped the planner Continue reading

More commentary on the R1 issue

Another resident’s reaction to the recent PSPAC meeting at the Irving Centre has been posted at Voices of Wolfville. Our favorite points from this piece:

To spend thereafter all this time on the “Vision for Wolfville” I regarded as wasting time with the intention to avoid and or shorten the discussions on the really relevant issues of the MPS draft. Nobody in the Western hemisphere will argue about these ideal principles which look good on paper and on the screen and are probably copied from somewhere else. … What was missing was the connection and relevance to the unique situation of the Town of Wolfville and the actions to be taken to get – over time – a step or two forward towards the realization of these idealistic principles.

Indeed. The same could be said of the survey and the community circles which supposedly Continue reading