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Hillier Avenue amendments approved for development to move ahead in the area

Coun. Mike Tobin of the Stephenville town council is seen giving some of his thoughts against amendments that will allow development in the Hillier Avenue area of town.
Coun. Mike Tobin of the Stephenville town council is seen giving some of his thoughts against amendments that will allow development in the Hillier Avenue area of town. - Frank Gale

Brad White, a landowner in the Hillier Avenue area of Stephenville, was ecstatic with a decision by the Stephenville town council to make amendments to allow development in the area.

Council passed a number of amendments on Thursday at their regular general meeting that will allow Country Living Residential and Rural development to take place.

White said he has three sisters and one brother ready to move ahead and build up in that area and he feels this is something that should have been allowed to happen way before this.

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He feels it’s a win-win for people with property there and for the town itself, as it will be collecting lots more in taxes once the property is developed.

“I’m currently paying $150 a year in taxes on that property and I’m sure if I had a home on it that would go up to $1,000 or more,” he said.

Coun. Don Gibbon and Coun. Mike Tobin, who both had dissenting votes on the issue, didn’t believe it was a win-win for everyone and were upset about making changes to the comprehensive 10-year plan adopted just three and a half years ago.

Gibbon said this plan did not come easy as there were many consultations with the public and where the Town of Stephenville regulations state any development or building of homes would have to be connected to water and sewer some people appealed on that to the Western Appeals Board, which ruled in favour of the town.

He said some appealed to Supreme Court, which also ruled in the favour of the town.

Tobin said the proposed amendments change the direction and philosophy of the Town of Stephenville, which is the 12th largest town in the province.

“Let me emphasize this is not a trivial or frivolous amendment. It would mean a structural change with many implications for the future,” he said.

Tobin said in the last decade Stephenville has seen a number of residential subdivisions developed and millions of dollars spent. He said fairness and a level playing field has to be taken into account for the developers.

Coun. Mark Felix said the rationale for these amendments is clear, that people want country and rural living.

“We’re (council) about landing people in our town and having more properties to tax and gain money from is a positive to me,” he said.

Felix said tiny homes are going up in the town and that’s the sort of forward thinking he’s prepared to be involved with. He said the ability to have a five-acre farm in the town is a positive.

He said as part of the permit, the property owner will have to sign an affidavit with a condition that person is responsible for their own water and sewer.

Coun. Laura Aylward said she has felt all along that people with private land should be able to build on it and technology is available today to do more things without having an effect on the environment.

Councillors Aylward, Felix, and Maurice Hynes, along with Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow voted in favour of the amendments.

Mayor Tom Rose did not take part in the discussion and left the room after declaring himself in a conflict of interest since he lives on Hillier Avenue.

Details of proposed amendment – Hillier Avenue

Proposed changes to the Country Living Residential Zone:

Remove Condition 1, which requires development to be connected to municipal water and sewer services.

Increase the minimum lot size for single dwellings from 450 square meters to 5,550 square meters.

Change the provisions of Condition 2 to establish a ceiling of six Animal Units for the number of animals that can be kept on a single property and set a minimum lot size based on the number of animals to be kept.

Proposed changes to the Rural Zone:

Set the minimum lot size of 5.0 hectares for an agricultural property.

Proposed rezonings:

Rezone approximately 100 hectares of land in the vicinity of Hillier Avenue from Comprehensive Development Area-residential to Country Living Residential.

Rezone approximately 100 hectares of land in the vicinity of Hillier Avenue from Comprehensive Development Area-Residential to Rural.

Rezone a 20-meter strip of land along the shoreline of a pond located west of Hillier Avenue from Comprehensive Development Area-Residential to Environmental Protection to create a conservation buffer.

Source: Town of Stephenville

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