Carbonear councillors want more time to digest zoning application

By Mark Squibb

Feathers were slightly ruffled during a discussion regarding a zoning request at Carbonear council earlier this month.
The motion, put forth by Councillor Danielle Doyle, was to rezone the area of 133 Water Street from commercial to residential.
The property is located in an area being considered to be amended from Heritage to Residential in Carbonear’s new Municipal Plan.
Councillor Peter Snow seconded the motion to open the topic for discussion.
Councillor Ray Noel said he felt council was lacking information about the request, and he required further clarification before making a decision.
“I need some time to go through this,” said Noel. “I have some questions… As a councillor, I feel that if I make a decision, it has to be an informed decision, and I don’t want to do it quickly, and therefore I’m requesting that this be postponed till a later date.”
Deputy Mayor Sam Slade felt similarly.
“We never got the information (about this) until we came in just before the meeting,” said Slade. “When I make a decision, I like to make a good, solid decision.”
Doyle said she had hoped the application would be deferred until the next public council meeting, but added she had concerns about the application she wanted to see addressed before the next development committee meeting, of which she is a member.
Doyle said the information had been in council’s possession since Friday, as it had been uploaded to the internet-based Dropbox which all councillors have access to and are expected to use frequently.
Snow, also a member of the committee, wondered whether the committee couldn’t meet immediately following the night’s council meeting, but Mayor Frank Butt said he would not be available.
Town Clerk Kathy Sommers said that as the motion had already been moved, it could be discussed right there and then.
“But, if people want more time to peruse the documentation they’ve been provided with, then yes you could certainly defer it as well,” said Sommers.
Doyle repeated she would prefer to see the application deferred, but that the committee needed to meet regarding the application.
Councillor Malcolm Seymour warned that should council vote on the matter without seeking more information first it could be opening a can of worms that somebody would have to answer to in the long run.
“My concern is that the information has been in the Dropbox since Friday, and that there were no concerns or questions presented until I wanted to talk about it tonight,” said Doyle. “So, I just want to make sure that what the issues with that are, so that we get them addressed.”
That brought councillor Noel back into the discussion.
“I don’t know why I have to echo what I said a few minutes ago, but I feel that I do,” said Noel. “I requested to have some extra time. So, Friday, this appeared — supposedly — and now I’m supposed to, magically, in the next few minutes, get the information like this,” —at which point Noel snapped his fingers. “So, I certainly will try to move this forward and address my questions but not as quickly as some people want to have happen.”
Butt then handed off the mayor’s gavel to the deputy mayor so that he could speak to the motion.
“Ten minutes is not enough time to digest the information that was presented to us, and I don’t appreciate it being almost railroaded in,” said Butt. “That’s my opinion.”
Doyle then asked Sommers to confirm her earlier statement that the information had been in the Dropbox since the Friday before council’s Tuesday meeting.
Sommers confirmed the minutes of the committee meeting, from which the motion sprang, were indeed in the Dropbox since Friday.
“So, it wasn’t 15 minutes before the meeting?” asked Doyle. “This was there since Friday?”
Sommers said some further information had been relayed to staff earlier that day.
With that, Mayor Butt called for a vote, and council voted unanimously to defer the motion.

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