City councillors listen to residents’ pleas and vote unanimously to halt planned construction in phase three of the Pace Avenue subdivision.
Following a two and a half hour discussion, the nine city councillors present all voted against the rezoning of land along Pace Ave. The land was to be used to build five more single family homes in the subdivision. Ward One councillor Larry Kings and Ward 5 councillor David Neumann were absent from the Committee of the Whole meeting to vote.
The first hour and a half of the discussion was painfully slow as councillors attempted to gain a better understanding of the situation and what the developer was attempting to accomplish and how it would affect current residents of the subdivision. The developer had filed an application to rezone land on Pace Ave to build five single family homes and move a storm water pond sitting on the land to complete the third and final phase of the subdivision. Ward four councillor Rick Carpenter went through the over 30 page report and questioned nearly every point in the report, gathering answers from the engineers, city officials, city planners and the developer.
However, it was not until the residents of the Pace Ave subdivision were given a chance to speak did the councillors fully grasp what some residents have had to live through for almost 19 years.
“I’ve lived in a construction zone for years.” Said Laura Flannigan who bought one of the first houses built in the Pace Ave subdivision. Flannigan’s sentiment was shared by all but one of the 11 residents who took to the podium to talk to council.
Real Estate agent Terry Hardy moved out of the subdivision in the fall of 2014 after describing his frustration with a lack of progress being made to complete the subdivision. “Residents who pay five to six thousand dollars in property taxes expect to have roads paved, sidewalks completed and no mounds of dirt making the land look like a construction site. I’ve never paid so much in taxes and been so embarrassed in where I live.” Said Hardy.
Hardy’s complaints of incomplete parts of the subdivision are some of the 53 outstanding items that have not been completed from the first two phases of the subdivision plan. Hardy also noted that from May to October 2014, a high percentage of residents put their homes up for sale due to frustration over the lack of completion. Hardy himself, sold three houses within the subdivision.
Of all the residents to voice their displeasure with the proposed rezoning, none spoke with a passion of Kurt Rose. Rose moved into the subdivision nine years ago. “I’ve lived in a construction zone for nine years.”
Rose also brought up the pond that the developer wanted to move as part of the proposed third phase. “I was under the belief the pond would always be there. It was the reason we bought our house.” Said Rose.
Rose’s concerns did not end with the lack of completion and the moving of the pond. Rose’s main concern was safety. “Safety should be our number one concern and I’m not sure that beings meet. There was a fire in 2014 and the street has no secondary access. The fire truck had to use land on phase three to turn around.” Said Rose.
Rose ended his speech with a question to councillors’ to ponder, “Where will we be left again if these are not built to completion again.” Said Rose.
Following councillors hearing the concerns of every resident who wished to speak, the councillors briefly dilated prior to voting.
“When people can’t enjoy their neighbourhoods it’s a sad state.” Said Ward four councillor Cheryl Antoski.
Antoski’s sentiments were backed by Ward two councillor John Utley who described the expectations of owners when they first purchased homes in the subdivision years ago. “Homeowners envisioned owning a home where they could look out their windows and see a pond. Instead they will be see housing. There expectations will never be meet and I will not be supporting the motion.” Said Utley.
Ward one councillor Rick Weaver heard the cries from Rose about safety and said “I will not support the proposal because of the lack of access for emergency vehicles.” Said Weaver.
“It’s hard to gain their trust back after what they’ve been through… I will not be supporting the development.” Said Carpenter.
Ward two councillor John Sless provided the most colourful explanation for not voting for the proposal. “It’s like the movie Groundhog Day. You wake up and nothing changes. I will not support the motion.” Said Sless.
With councillors voting against phase three of the development, the developer is allowed launch an appeal and attempt to get the decision overturned.