Sea cans cleared for sailing at Foxtrap residence

By Craig Westcott/November 18, 2022

A property owner at 40 Redwood Place off Dunns Hill Road, Foxtrap, has been given the go ahead to use five large ocean transport containers, known as sea cans, as sheds behind his home, despite objections from the chairman of the Town’s planning committee.

Councillor-at-Large Rex Hillier made the motion to approve the application, as it stemmed from a recommendation made by his committee. But Hillier made clear he was against it.

Council approved the application on condition the owner makes the shipping containers look as complementary to his house as possible, or screen them with a fence. A related motion, which council also approved, allows the owner to erect a 10-foor high fence on his land, which is also higher than the regulations normally permit for a residential property.

Hillier was the only councillor to vote against both motions. He acknowledged the issue led to a split opinion at the committee as well.

“Normally our committee works very well together, but in this case, we couldn’t reach an agreement,” he said. “Really what we have here is the owner wants to use five sea cans as accessory buildings. It’s on a very large lot with lots of space, and they’re not visible from the neighbourhood. However, our regulations say that ‘accessory buildings shall be complementary in colour and style to main residences.’ And I just don’t feel that five sea cans can be made to complement the style of a three-bedroom bungalow without costing more than the homeowner is prepared to pay. So, I’ll be voting against this.”

Councillor-at-large Paul Connors, who is also on the planning committee, explained why he supported the application.

“We discussed this application for quite a while,” he said. “Some councillors even went and visited the property to see what the homeowner wanted to do. We even reached out to other municipalities for information on how they regulate these structures as residential accessory buildings, and the consensus was that sea cans are permitted in residential zones as accessory buildings if the exterior cladding matches that of the dwelling on the property. So that was similar to what we were doing.”

Connors noted the Town also issued a public notice about the application to 20 residences around the property and published it in The Shoreline and on social media so that the public could have a chance to comment on it.

“We only received one submission and that person was a resident who doesn’t live in the immediate vicinity,” Connors said. “As councillor Hillier mentioned, there’s over five acres of land here, you can’t see the sea cans from around his property. The property owner has agreed to ensure the accessory building or structure (will) be finished in manner that’s complementary by putting a full fence around the structure. So, I will be supporting the application as I do not feel it will have a negative impact on neighbouring residents or property owners.”

Councillor-at-large Joshua Bartlett, who is also on the planning committee, argued in favour as well.

“Having been there and talking with the resident and seeing what they’re proposing, I will be supporting (the motion),” he said.

With nobody else stepping forward to comment, it fell to Hillier to close the discussion before the mayor called the vote.

Hillier said a 10-foot fence does not indicate the structure will be complementary in style to the residence.

“Your worship, in the past we’ve dug in our heels in support of this regulation – on several occasions,” Hillier pointed out. “You can go up and down this shore and there are places where accessory buildings have been turned down because they couldn’t meet the colour and the style that would complement the main residence, which is what our regulations require. In a way, I wish we could put those sea cans there and let them hide away and not have anything to worry about. But we have regulations that we need to follow and we’re stepping outside those regulations in doing this tonight… I have some real concerns regarding the precedent that we’re setting if we should go forward with approving this permit.”

With that, Mayor Darrin Bent called the vote and everyone but Hillier voted in favour of it.

In other planning committee news, council approved applications for two more hobby farms.

The first was for the property at 50 Walshs Road in Kelligrews. The applicant was seeking permission to keep five laying hens.

Hillier recommended approval on condition that no roosters will be housed on the land and that the owner registers the farm with the provincial government’s Farm Premises ID program.

The second application pertained to 1890 Conception Bay Highway near the border with Holyrood.

In this case, the applicant was looking for permission to keep a horse.

Hillier again recommended it be approved on condition the owner register his property with the provincial Farm Premises ID program, but that he also provide the Town with comments from Service NL regarding any impact the manure may have on the existing private well and septic system.

“This is a big piece of land in the Seal Cove area that we don’t see any reason why they couldn’t have one horse on the property,” Hillier said.

“Okay, it’s a one-horse property,” said the mayor.

Both motions passed unanimously.

And finally, council has refused to refund the processing on a failed rezoning attempt of the property at 22-24 Cherry Lane. That’s the site of the former RNC office and school that a developer wanted to convert into a four-unit apartment complex.

“The cost of rezoning is carried by the applicant and comes out to approximately $3,000 if you go right through the process and have a commissioner come in and so on,” Hillier said. “If the rezoning process is stopped, as this one was, at the first decision point, then the applicant is refunded the balance. In this case there is a disagreement between us and the applicant as to how much that refund should be… There will be a refund, but we’re disagreeing as to the amount.”

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