• Jim Mosher

Beach housing subdivision hearing starts early

They jumped the gun. That much can be said of members of Winnipeg Beach council when they opened a public hearing into an application for a 44-lot residential subdivision at 6:01 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23. A public notice from the Eastern Interlake Planning District clearly stated that the hearing was to begin at 6:15 p.m.

The proponent and a handful of others did not arrive until a few minutes before the scheduled start time. Two people spoke to the hearing, raising a number of concerns about the subdivision proposal during the early-start of the hearing.

Nancy Thom, chief administrative officer of the planning district, said timed planning matters are normally not considered until the scheduled time. “If one is started before [the advertised time], I’ve never heard of that happening,” Thom, who also serves as a development officer and planning liaison for municipalities in the district, said Fri., Jan. 25.

As the hearing wound down, proponent Vince Dery arrived. He did not speak to the application nor answer residents’ concerns because he had not been in chambers to hear all of them.

Reached later, Winnipeg Beach Mayor Tony Pimentel, who chaired the hearing, accepted responsibility for the timing lapse. “That was my mistake,” he said frankly.

The mayor noted however that, based on the information council received from the planning district, the hearing dealt only with the subdivision of land and the creation of a new road.

“We weren’t dealing with what kind of house you’re going to put in, what it’s going to look like,” he said. “We were dealing strictly with land being divided into 44 lots. Everything else, really, wasn’t part of this request.”

It is possible that another public hearing may be required should someone complain about the early start. A single complaint may be enough to force such a hearing, though such a move may get knotted in legal technicalities, particularly because council voted unanimously to approve the subdivision application.

It should be noted that neither of the residents who spoke during the front-end of the early hearing expressed strong opposition. Rather they raised concerns, many of which would, said Mayor Pimentel be addressed in a development agreement.

Nora Campbell was concerned that well drilling may have an impact because she has a shallow well. She also worried that her land may be undermined during the construction phase.

Adam Paoletios, who lives on Strollway St. at Lake Ave., said opening Lake Ave. westward beyond Strollway will put him on a corner lot, not something he bargained for when he moved to Winnipeg Beach eight years ago.

“I moved from Winnipeg to be in a more country situation,” he said. “If this development is going to happen – and I’m sure it will, to some extent – my concern is how do reduce the amount of noise pollution. There is no fence, no tree barrier; it’s rather open. I have a lot of concerns with the sound, the amount of traffic, the dust.”

“I understand the development is going to take place,” Paoletios continued. “I’m not here to say completely ‘no’. But what are you going to do address some of my concerns, our concerns?”

For his part, Dery said what he did hear from the residents represented valid concerns that will be addressed as the development moves forward through the development agreement process and subsequent phases.

He noted that the homes in the subdivision will be built off-site, minimizing noise and dust concerns. As well, he has been told the aquifer can more than sustain the additional wells his project will need, once fully subscribed.

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