Out of limbo

Town finally releases choice parcel of Kelligrews land long prohibited from development

By Craig Westcott / September 8, 2023

A Kelligrews property owner who has been stymied for decades from developing a choice parcel of land off Red Bridge Road in Kelligrews may soon see some light at the other end of what has been a very long planning tunnel.

The land, which is located between Sgt. Ned Nugent Park and the CBS Arena, fronts on Red Bridge Road at civic number 118. On Tuesday, Conception Bay South council voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the development regulations to allow the rezoning of the land.

“This is a rezoning that has been ongoing for some time,” said councillor-at-large Rex Hillier, who chairs the Town’s planning and development committee. 

Hillier noted that last month council reviewed the findings of a commissioner’s report on the rezoning application and a public hearing that was held on the application.

“Basically it’s a rezoning from Open Space Recreation to R1 Residential,” Hillier said. “As I said, it has been ongoing for some time. We’ve met with any number of people (about it), we’ve had several public meetings on this and one of the major concerns in that area is flooding of Kelligrews River, which is adjacent to this property. And it’s interesting that the only condition that the Commissioner had in her report was that no further development take place on this property until such time as a water hazard study is done of the Kelligrews River.”

That in itself is interesting, Hillier pointed out, because the Town is already working its way through a list of such studies for river basins throughout CBS.

“We’ve done one for Lawrence Pond Road, we’re currently working our way through one for Billy Brook in Seal Cove, and the next one on the list will probably be the Kelligrews River, once funding becomes available to do that,” he said.

Council is well aware of the concerns about flooding in the area, said Hillier, citing another e-mail on the subject from a Red Bridge Road resident just that day.

“So we understand that and we understand where the commissioner is coming from in her report,” Hillier said. “We are recommending approval of the rezoning, but understand that there has to be some more work there in terms of a water study.”

Mayor Darrin Bent said that is a reasonable recommendation given what is known about the area and what residents have seen.

Ward 3 councillor Gerard Tilley agreed. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with people in that particular area and that was one of the sticking points about any future development in and around that area is that a (flooding) hazard study be done on the Kelligrews River, and I’m pleased to see that it’s going to come to fruition pretty soon,” he said.

Councillor-at-Large Josh Barrett added the caution that the approval given Tuesday does not mean that a development itself is approved.

“This is just approval for rezoning,” Barrett said. “When any development goes in, we’re going to need to see some of that information, how they’re going to mitigate some of those concerns. So I’m certainly in support of moving this motion this evening (with the) understanding that when the proponent wants to do any work they’re going to need to meet the requirements of those permits.”

Councillor-at-large Paul Connors said he is glad to see the rezoning moving ahead, and agreed it’s important to identify any water or flooding issues. “Because when we had the public consultation meetings, it was loud and clear that the residents had no problem with the rezoning of the parcels of land, it’s just that it can’t create any more flooding problems and we need to fix the flooding problems that are there,” he said. “So I think this is all going to work out for the better of the people on Red Bridge Road.”

In an interview after the meeting, councillor Hillier explained the long moratorium against any development of the land was unfair to the owner.

The same owner developed a modern subdivision off Legion Road some years ago that still stands out as an attractive area because of the street layout, size of the lots and the quality of home construction.

“Right now the owner has not indicated any plans at all, whether he would develop it or sell it or what they are going to do,” Hillier said. 

The councillor was unsure of the exact size of the property, which is located on the west side of Red Bridge Road between the Peacekeepers Way overpass and the rugby field at the back of Sgt. Ned Nugent Park.

“It’s a property the Town had set aside for Open Space Recreation 40 years ago, and subsequent Town Plans kept it that way and it just got to the point where we just did a Recreation Master Plan and there was no mention of that in the master plan so we felt that really the owner was being hard done by at this point in time,” said Hillier. “He couldn’t do anything with it, he couldn’t sell it, he couldn’t develop it (because) we were saying we want to hang onto it for potential recreation uses. And we figure, you can go back 40 years (that he couldn’t use it), and now we’ve got a Recreation Master Plan for the next 10 years, so that’s 50 years that nobody is saying they’d use it and it’s really not fair.”

In other development news, council has rejected an application from the owner of a boathouse on Villa Nova Road who applied to convert the structure into a house. 

Hillier said there were a number of issues with the idea, including the fact the structure is located in what the Town deems a ‘High Hazard flood zone’ and it doesn’t border on a public street.

Council also rejected an application to operate a home-based automotive repair business out of a house at 553 Conception Bay Highway in Foxtrap. Hillier said the Town’s regulations “explicitly prohibit automotive repair as a home based business.”

Council did approve an application to build a single family home at 4-6 Dove Place near Worsley Park in Chamberlains. The house will be serviced with a private well and septic system.

Council also approved an application to operate a changeable message sign near All Saints Church in Foxtrap, on condition the placement of the sign and its size does not interfere with traffic sight lines.

And finally, council will ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs for permission to expropriate some 1.36 acres of land on the west side of the Foxtrap Access Road, south of Juniper Place.

That’s an area just past Frank Roberts Junior High and running inland towards Middle Ridge and Tilleys Road South.

“We’ve been trying to get access to some back land there and there is a strip of land along Foxtrap Access Road that prevents anybody from getting to the back land behind that strip,” explained Hillier. “We went to look at buying it and there were some issues with ownership, so the better process would be expropriation and through that process if anybody has any ownership issues, they’ll work that out at that point in time.”

Most of the land appears to be part of a remnant parcel of a Crown Grant made some years ago. 

“There is a gap in the ownership continuum, and they’ll work that out and once it’s all straightened out, whoever owns it will get paid through the expropriation process,” said Hillier. 

As to what is planned for the area, the councillor said, “there is nothing actually identified in stone to go back there at this point in time.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *