Chelsea, Quebec council ‘rejects’ housing development

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by admin on November 4, 2010

‘Because our project is a direct threat to their water mega-project’-Common Ground developer

It came up unexpectedly during the Chelsea, Quebec question period and felt like a slap in the face for Common Ground developer Sean McAdam.

After what appeared to be an innocuous series of questions about other related issues, the Common Ground developer left the Nov. 1 Chelsea council meeting with the message that Chelsea council had rejected his plans for a 110-acre housing project on Old Chelsea Rd.

Even though Mayor Caryl Green did not, and later would not, use the word “rejected,” McAdam says there is no other way to interpret the mayor’s surprise announcement, only coming after being repeatedly pressed by McAdam for clarification, that the Common Ground project be considered in a future urban plan (PPU) and not the general development plan (PAE) for which McAdam believed he had already received conditional approval last May.

McAdam, who has been working in collaboration with the municipality, community groups and the Chelsea Visioning process for over two years for a project tailored to the community, later told The Low Down the issue boils down to the proposed municipal water system.

“Our project is a direct threat to their water mega-project, and I strongly believe that’s why we got rejected,” he says.

Green and the municipality have put forward a possible water system for the centre village, whose estimated $10-million price tag could be covered in part by developments like Common Ground and neighbouring Chelsea Creek Estates.

McAdam has so far refused to back such an expensive waterline; Common Ground has instead received permits to draw water from the creek that runs through the property.

While McAdam believed he had received a conditional approval for his PAE application in May, and that a final approval was weeks away, an Oct. 25 letter from Director-general Paul St-Louis points out that council never approved any PAE application.

“He asked for an approval of the principle of the project,” said Caryl Green. The letter refers to the May resolution that states, “council welcomes positively the preliminary design presented.”

Green also said that council forwarded the Common Ground project to be considered as part of the PPU process, an urban plan that sets specific rules in terms of zoning and types of construction. The PPU urban plan is a work in progress and does not yet exist. McAdam, who filed his first planning documents with the municipality in 2008, has filed all his planning documents under the PAE application, the current zoning.

“We filed an application under the current zoning and you are telling me, right now, verbally, in a public meeting, that we are rejected,” McAdam shot at Green during the Nov. 1 question period.

Green responded that a letter would follow, at which point McAdam and partner Carrie Wallace, walked out in frustration.

McAdam said he will be contacting his lawyers. Meanwhile, the municipality has already brought in “outside consultants” to examine the Common