By Richard Bell
Summary: HRM's Planning Department has rejected the application from Kiann Management Limited (owned by Lawrence Belefontaine) to rezone a parcel of land on Highway 7 in Porters Lake for use as a construction & demolition debris (C&D) recycling plant.
Story: Opponents of the rezoning of a parcel of land on Highway 7 in Porters Lake for use as a construction & demolition debris (C&D) recycling plant have won a major battle: faced with a Planning Department report recommending against the rezoning, Kiann Management Limited (headed by Lawrence Bellefontaine) has officially placed its rezoning application on hold.
In a quick reaction to the news, the Concerned Residents of Porters Lake, Lake Echo, Preston and Mineville Areas emailed the following message:
“The Coalition wants to thank every member of the four communities who have stood together, arms linked, to protect our families, our lifestyle and our communities. We all did this together! THANK YOU!!”
In a phone interview, Deb Day, the chair of Concerned Residents, welcomed the news.
“It’s a great step,” Day said. “Knowing that the planners listened to our concerns, it’s a huge step forward, definitely something to celebrate.”
But Day said her group was still wary. “Bellefontaine has put his application on hold,” Day said, “but he hasn’t completely withdrawn it. It’s still something we have to keep an eye on. We have won a battle, but we haven’t won the war yet. I’d really like to see him sell the property.”
Reflecting on the struggle, Day said she thought people were ready to be more pro-active about protecting where they lived. “It’s not just a matter of saying, we don’t like this or that,” Day said. “We have to take responsibility for making things happen in our community that reflect our values, instead of waiting for HRM to come in.
The Planning Department officially notified Kiann Management Limited that it was rejecting the rezoning application in a letter from Principal Planner Thea Langille to Lawrence Bellefontaine on August 29, 2016. (Text of the full letter.) Langille laid out the following principal reasons for the rejection:
- The proposed facility was too close to two designated Rural Growth Centres, Porters Lake and Lake Echo
- The facility would create traffic problems because its location far off Highway 107 would create traffic congestion along Highway 7.
- Due in part to the 2008 forest fire, the vegetation on the site was insufficient to provide the required buffering and screening to reduce the project’s noise or visual impact in surrounding residential areas.
After reviewing the extensive public consultation process, Langille also noted, “ “The vast majority of community members have requested the rejection of the application by the Municipality.”
After being notified of the August 29, 2016 rejection letter, Councillor David Hendsbee sent Bellefontaine an email at 12:01 pm on September 9, 2016 strongly urging him to look elsewhere:
“With all of this information now in hand, if this application was to proceed onward the Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council, it would be very unlikely that the Councillors would even consider forwarding it to a public hearing stage. Therefore I beseech you to withdraw your application for this site and redirect your attention and resources to finding another more compatible and suitable place.”
Less than an hour later, Bellefontaine notified the Planning Department that he was placing his Application on hold.
Chief Planner Langille then sent the following email to Bellefontaine on September 9, 2016 placing the application on hold and suggesting ways in which HRM might assist his company in finding a more suitable location elsewhere in HRM:
“I will place your application on hold as requested below and will check in with you in a month or two as to how you may wish to proceed. I will also update the website to indicate that application has been placed on hold by your request.
I have spoken with our Real Estate division and they have suggested that you contact them (Business Parks 902.490.6025) directly to discuss any possible properties in the Burnside area that you may be interested in.
For further information and as I have mentioned previously, there are no properties within HRM that are pre-zoned for a Construction and Demolition Processing facility (CD-2). Any property being considered for a Construction and Demolition Processing facility is subject to the same rezoning process as the Lake Echo site. However, the Burnside Industrial Park is serviced with municipal water and sewer and is an area specifically designed for industrial and industrial like land uses as well as their supporting land uses.”
In a separate email, Hendsbee has reached out to the two local MLAs, Kevin Murphy and Keith Colwell, and asked for their assistance in getting the province to consider buying up Bellefontaine’s property, which already adjoins some Crown land. Hendsbee suggested to the two MLAs “Having this land securely in the hands of the Province would help alleviate a lot of concerns of the local citizens.”
Selling or disposing of the property to the province or HRM may be tricky. Kiann Management had already dumped the debris from its demolition of the Gordon Bell School on the site, claiming it was all “inert” material. However, in response to a public request, the Department of Environment did a new investigation of the site, and ended up issuing a Litter Order to remove the materials from the site before January 20, 2017. The order prohibits processing the materials onsite, so Kiann will have to pay to haul the materials elsewhere and pay tipping fees at a legal dump.