Cornwallis plan adopted over objections

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Plan awaiting final approval

Annapolis County

Following a public hearing, Annapolis County Council has adopted the revised Cornwallis Park Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use Bylaw over the objections of Councillors Wayne Fowler, Frank Chipman and Brian”Fuzzy” Connell and some landowners.

The planning strategy has few changes from the original plan adopted in 1999 for the former CFB Cornwallis military base. The plan permits only institutional, commercial and industrial uses north of Highway 1. Under the revised plan that was adopted by council, the only residential uses are permitted on the south side of Highway 1.

These two provisions were the focus of those who attended the public hearing. A few property owners on the north side wish to create a residential zone. On the south side of Highway 1, commercial landowners wanted to add an industrial zone.

South Side

Dave Wilson, owner of Bear River Plastic Welding Inc. occupies the former military engineering and maintenance complex adjacent to Highway 1 in the southern segment of the former military base. Prior to this revised plan, this area was zoned restricted business that permitted commercial and related uses under certain conditions.

The new plan restricts the uses to residential only making the industrial uses, like Bear River Plastic Welding, nonconforming. While this would allow Bear River Plastic Welding to continue, a development agreement or rezoning might be required if the business wished to significantly expand.

Wilson told the public meeting that this change could make it difficult to impossible for his business to attract banking support to expand. He said he is negotiating with ports and marinas in Quebec who are testing the “wave breaker system” that is manufactured by his company. These could lead to large contracts that could spur significant expansion of the enterprise.

 Wilson asked the council to create an industrial zone that would facilitate his business. Several other small business owners at Cornwallis Park personally or via a letter voiced their support for the creation of an industrial zone and Bear River Plastic Welding.

 Councillors were told that under the Municipal Government Act they could retain the restricted business zone or send the entire plan back to the community. The legislation did not permit the creation of a new land use.

Councillor Timothy Habinski said that he would support retaining the restricted business zone if that would be of assistance to Bear River Plastic Welding. The CAO suggested that a development agreement might be possible. He offered municipal support in explaining the land use issues to any lender. Wilson did not respond to these offers.

North Side

A few property owners on the north side of Highway 1 sought the creation of a residential zone for former base commander’s residence and the adjacent coach house that was occupied by the military chaplain. This new designation was opposed by business interests who believed that residential and industrial uses should not be mixed.

The coach house is owned by Merwin Clayton who wishes to live in the building that is also home to his property maintenance business. The former base commander’s residence is owned by Sherri Mitchell and Dr. Ron Matsusaki who wish to restore and live in the property.

Mitchell provided a detailed history of the building. She said it was the former home of the first Member of Parliament for Annapolis elected as part of the Nova Scotia Liberals who opposed Confederation. Following that it became part of the estate for a wealthy American industrialist. She noted that family graves are located in the basement.

Dr. Matsusaki, an emergency doctor in Digby, questioned the motives of those opposed to a residential area north of Highway 1. As some of these comments questioned the professional integrity of county planning staff, Warden Reg Ritchie told the Matsusaki to refrain from this approach.

 Jean-Paul Deveau, Acadian Seaplants Limited, told the council that industrial and residential uses do not mix and create uncertainty for business investors. His comments were supported by Acadian Seaplants’ staff members and individuals associated with the development agencies that led industrial development at the former base.

 The Cornwallis Park Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use Bylaw was developed at public sessions of the local area planning advisory committee. On approval by the council, it will be forwarded to the province for final approval and officially advertised.

 This area is currently dominated by residential properties but includes a small commercial component. Under the new plan, these commercial uses can continue as nonconforming uses.

Organizations: Bear River Plastic Welding, Cornwallis Park Municipal Planning Strategy, Annapolis County Council North Side

Geographic location: Quebec, Annapolis, Digby

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