Council rejects modular home plant again

Gary Kean
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CORNER BROOK  City council has once again denied an application for a modular home manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Corner Brook.

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.”

Twitter: WS_GaryKean

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • Rod Lyver
    February 15, 2013 - 09:27

    Jason who? Sign your name or try your best to refrain from attacking someone. By the way, Williams bailed and we will be left holding the bag. How much of the 250 did you get?

  • Dy
    February 13, 2013 - 11:09

    By the sounds of it, Danieal is only looking for permission to buy the land. If the crown owns it, then its the crown who should be concerned with how fast it is developed. And no rule i can find states a detailed business plan or engineered drawings are required to buy crown land with your own money. You submit engineered drawings when you apply for a building permit. Chances are, he cant get further financing until he owns the land. City has to approve sale, crown sells it, then the bank will finance for the plant. Its the onus of the bank to realize if the project is viable via the business plan. So if the bank says no, the land would technically be untouched. And the city would have the choice to buy it or not depending on their wishes. The risk is squarely on Mr Griffin.

  • Murphy
    February 13, 2013 - 07:49

    It is not the business of any city or council to make a judgement on the possible success or failure of a business proposal. Remove personal interpretations; if Mr. Griffins proposal meets guidelines including financial then that is all that is factored into the decision. Who are any of the councillors to say his business venture can't work. Mr. Bruce it's not your money or your personal effort so why do you think it should affect you? Forward thinking would indicate a YES with a conditional contract that work must commence within a set period (one year building commenced with an anticipated two year start up). If not, then the city can re-purchase the property at the same cost. WOW this is not brain science just forward thinking!!! Little people with little minds!

  • cornerbrooker
    February 12, 2013 - 22:37

    Its not the point of whether this is a good or viable business idea but mr griffin has to prove that he has the means to pull this off and he hasnt done it yet. let someone more established take on a project like this and that has the experience to do so. Obviously he hasnt proven this to council that he can do this yet. I wouldnt want to give up land like this unless it was to a proven entity

    • dave
      February 13, 2013 - 09:31

      hasn't proven himself yet? In who eyes? Who are you to have the knowledge to approve or disapprove based upon whether you think the business is a good idea. Is the criteria set in place been addressed in realation to financial backing from an institution, conceptual drawing, job prospects etc? So someone who got money and connections should have the land? Lots of contracts come with stipulation to build in a specific period of time. Council can cover its basis but that's where it should end.

  • sandra tulk
    February 12, 2013 - 22:12

    This business sounds like a great idea. Work out a few kinks, and get it done. Some of the Council members seem petty and mean, like it's a personal issue with this particular entrepreneur. Grow up, and do what's best for the community - that's what you're there for. A new business such as this is great for the economic growth of the area. Have you got it through your heads that we can't count on the mill any more like we used to. Live in the present and move into the future with prosperity and growth as goals, or else leave the Council.

  • jimandrews
    February 12, 2013 - 21:01

    If this was a serious business proposal would he not be looking at the flat paved area available cheap in Stephenville. leveling the land in Massey Drive would cost the price of a building.

  • jason
    February 12, 2013 - 19:44

    I wouldn't give up this land without seeing accountant prepared financial statements and a sound business plan. Let Mr Griffin show council that a bank is willing to lend him the funds to back him or show them investments statements that he has the funds to take on this project. Why should he get this land for dirt cheap. Smarten up people!

  • Jack
    February 12, 2013 - 18:36

    Another example of Corner Brook City Hall trying to stop an aspiring entreprenuer is the John's Point Subdivision case. Six years, Trent Quinton tried to start a high end subdivision near the entrance to the North Shore Highway, but like Daniel Griffin's Modular Home Plant, Corner Brook City Council abused every regulation possible to stop Trent Quinton from building this subdivision. In light of Corner Brook City Hall stopping Mr. Quinton from developing a new subdivision, the developer is now suing City Hall for damages.

  • Rod Lyver
    February 12, 2013 - 17:55

    Leo, why is it your business where Danny Griffin gets the money? Maybe if his name was Danny Williams you would have gladly giving him 2500 hectares and cozied up to him at the same time. While all this plays out it appears council will vote to approve mining in our watershed. Lets hope those who support mining jobs in the watershed are looking for new jobs come this fall.

    • jason
      February 12, 2013 - 22:58

      Are you seriously comparing danny griifin to danny williams? it matters alot whether he can come up with the money to fund this project before we give up this valuable land. we wouldnt question it if it was danny williams since he sold cable atlantic for approx $250,000,000. this is why you would never be voted in to city council. show me you have bank financing before you want this land. this is just an idea not a business. rod you are foolish

  • Lonewolf
    February 12, 2013 - 15:11

    Why would council want to buy back the land? It is obvious they don't want the city to grow. They should not only be kicked out of the council but be kicked clean out of the province and back to Russia where they belong.

    • Jack
      February 12, 2013 - 18:31

      Lonewolf, I recommend that Corner Brook City Council should be sent to Greece as a punishment for being anti-business, not Russia. As you know, Greece is well known for its anti-entrepreneurial climate and excessive government red tape. In fact, aspiring entrepreneurs have to go through hundreds, perhaps thousands, of government departments and agencies just to start a business in Greece. This excessive government red tape are a main reason this country rich in history is now bankrupt. Therefore, Neville Greeley, Priscilla Boutcher, Leo Bruce, Donna Francis, Gary Kelly, and Donna Luther should apply for a job with the Greek Government as I'm sure that Greece will welcome them with open arms.

  • brian holwell
    February 12, 2013 - 14:45

    i am not aware of anyone on council with the financial,business or the engineering background to come up with the comments made by councillor griffin is a entreprenuer who has been successfully responsible for his own and his employees pay cheques for a number years an achievement which nobody on council or its bureaucracy can claim to.i would think mr griffin has gone through all the hoops with his accountant and engineer to determine if the venture is viable....and if it fails it would be his loss to bear...not the city.the city would be under no obligation to purchase the property back from mr.griffin than any one else who sold him a piece of land and i suggest the second coming is more likely to occur before the land vaue goes to 2-3 million.if the 75-100 jobs are an accurate number the council is rejecting a potential 3-4 million annual payroll coming into the city. time for somebody to wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Dave Smith
    February 12, 2013 - 10:26

    Are these councillors mad. Just write a contract with him and if he does not build within a specified period then recall the land purchase and the city looses nothing but the contractor does. These plants have been successful all over Canada and are in great demand. Look at the jobs, open your eyes or thingslike this will see Corner Brook become a have not city with large unemployment

  • Devil's Advocate
    February 12, 2013 - 09:56

    Lease the land to him, with a clean-up clause?

  • PH
    February 12, 2013 - 09:30

    It really sounds to me that Council doubts Mr Griffins ability to follow through. How did they come to this conclusion? Would it be a failed business? No. His current business has been successful for a decade or so. Would it be a lack of heart? This process has been going for years and Mr Griffin has yet to give up. Now city council wants to go through an expenditure of millions of dollars to service a piece of land they dont even own? Anyone else show interest in this particular block? Any plans to complete the industrial park where Griffin originally wanted to go? Chances are, development around that area wont happen for a good long time. Something smells really fishy here. Something Montreal-esque, if you will.

  • dave king
    February 12, 2013 - 08:48

    further proof (not that any was needed) that the corner brook city council is a complete and utter joke. go to deer lake daneal...their council knows how to receive businesses and support the town. im glad i moved from CB when i had the chance

  • Make it conditional
    February 12, 2013 - 08:34

    Mr Bruce - The city can make it a conditional offer. If the business is not up and running after 2 years, the city can have the option to take back the land. Not rocket science, but it requires some thought which is why it will be rejected by council

  • Carla
    February 12, 2013 - 07:12

    Heaven forbid that the city grow.

  • Shawn
    February 12, 2013 - 07:07

    Mr. Griffin's plans do not meet the needs of Leo Bruce, yet they meet the needs of the Bank and his financial investors, the ones investing the money to build this business. All he needs to do is wait until next year for his next proposal. Mr. Bruce and most, if not all of the current council, will not be there so maybe the next council will be more open to new businesses. "“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.” "

  • Jack
    February 12, 2013 - 06:31

    Why does it seem that Corner Brook City Council are acting like a bunch of hypocrites again and again? Council says they want to create jobs, including the modular home plant, and bring in extra tax revenue, but then reject the Modular Home Plant and impose a moratorium on future development. Mayor Greeley, Donna Luther, Donna Francis, Gary Kelly, Linda Chaisson, Leo "Mr. Anti Business" Bruce, and Priscilla Boutcher, remember the old saying that you can't have your cake and eat it too, what I'm saying is that you can't grow the economy and impose moratoriums at the same time. Because the Civic Elections are near, all I can say to these backwards Councilors as punishment for constantly hurting Corner Brook with Greek style rules that hurt economic growth,down with Boutcher, Bruce, Chaisson, Francis, Kelly, and Luther, and I hope they don't get voted back in September. In the meantime, stop imposing moratoriums on development because they hurt the same economy you're trying to grown. Besides, this is Corner Brook, not Athens, so Corner Brook City Hall, GROW UP.