City businessman Danieal Griffin had three versions of his plan to build the plant on the Massey Drive access road denied in late 2011.
On Monday, council rejected his latest proposal, which Griffin submitted this past September.
When the latest proposal was publicized, the City of Corner Brook received no objections and actually received one email and one phone call supporting Griffin.
But staff recommended the development still be denied because it is outside the city’s service limits. Instead, staff urged council to ask Griffin to consider an alternative location within the city’s boundaries that is already serviced.
Staff also recommended that, if council did approve Griffin’s project, that a moratorium be placed on any further development in this area until services are extended.
Council both denied the application and instituted a moratorium on any future development of the Massey Drive access road northeast of Johnson’s Construction — a business that does exist in that area near the western entrance to the city — until services are extended.
Johnson’s Construction has installed its own fire suppression services, as required by council.
Coun. Linda Chaisson was the only councillor to vote against the motion, asking why Griffin’s plan was being rejected when another business had already been approved to go there. Chaisson said there are many similarities in the size and scope of both businesses, and Griffin has made changes to his project to try and make it more acceptable to council.
Further, she added that there is a growing demand for modular home construction and this project will not only generate tax revenue for the city but could, according to Griffin, create between 75 and 100 jobs.
“He wants to purchase this piece of land ... because it is visible from the highway,” said Chaisson. “If you look at any modular home development in Atlantic Canada, they are all usually built on highways and that’s why he is so interested in that piece of land ... Why is the Griffin proposal being treated differently?”
Coun. Leo Bruce said Griffin’s business plan lacks a lot of engineering and financial details and had his doubts as to when, if ever, it would actually materialize.
“If I ever thought there was a chance that that modular plant would go ahead in the next couple of years, I would be the first one to vote for it,” said Bruce. “At this time I think it’s an idea, and that’s all it is.”
The land Griffin wants is Crown land within the city. Bruce is concerned that if the development does not transpire, the city could find itself in a position where it would have to either develop around it or buy it back from Griffin for a heftier sum than what he will pay for it.
“I can see the possibility of somebody who has paid $150,000 or $200,000 for those 15 acres of land today and, in seven or eight years time, the City of Corner Brook going in and having to buy it for $1 million or $1.5 million,” said Bruce. “I am not comfortable with that process at all.”