Chelsea, Quebec developer won’t wait forever

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by Mark Burgess on June 3, 2010

Chelsea Creek developer Marc Shank is still playing the waiting game – for either a municipal sewer and water system or provincial approval for the development’s water supply – but he’s not prepared to hold out for the former option much longer.

Shank said the sewer and water line along Old Chelsea Road makes sense in terms of economies of scale, but that he’s drawn a line in the sand and won’t wait for the municipality forever.

“We’re going to be in the ground this year. That’s for sure,” he said.

After two heated public meetings last month, Chelsea is rethinking its proposed sewer and water system, and Quebec’s Ministry of Environment still hasn’t granted Chelsea Creek a permit for its water supply.

“There’s been a lot of interaction between our people and the ministry,” Shank said, adding that he expects to receive the go-ahead in the next few weeks.

Shank is open to using either communal wells or a municipal water system for his future development, saying the cost would be comparable no matter which route he chooses. However, neither option is ready to go.

The Chelsea Creek development agreement, signed by Shank and former mayor Jean Perras last November, stated that the developer must provide ministry authorization for its water supply within 120 days.

In March, after the 120-day period had expired, former Chelsea spokesperson Helene Rivest told the Low Down the deadline was “not set in cement” and that it didn’t affect the agreement. Shank said it was out of his hands once the application is submitted to the ministry.

The study performed by Chelsea Creek’s engineers – contained in the development agreement – warns of a possible negative impact on neighbouring wells. Perras and Director-general Paul St. Louis signed the agreement even though Chelsea’s PAE zoning bylaw states that developments must “demonstrate that the project will not cause a reduction in groundwater levels for either the site in question or for adjacent properties.”

Chelsea Creek came up for discussion at public meetings on the sewer and water system, with a few residents who were suspicious that the development was pressuring the approximately $15 million of infrastructure investment.

Visioning report in the zone (text break)

Shank said he didn’t agree with the Visioning committee’s reference to Chelsea Creek’s zone in its report’s executive summary, though he said he was “satisfied” with the section devoted to Zone 7, or the Old Chelsea Corridor. Committee chair George Claydon called the section “a complicated zone.”

The executive summary states that “there was no consensus regarding the role of commercial development within this zone.” The section on Zone 7 states that while “many” saw an opportunity for a third village centre and “some” thought commercial development would make the strip more walkable, “a majority view” was to avoid the commercialization of the entire strip between the A5 and Hwy 105.