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Another tense meeting

Wednesday, February 27, 2013   by: Darren Taylor

The controversy over the Pointe Estates development goes on.

Tuesday evening marked another tense Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (SSMRCA) Board meeting, with disputes between Board members over the minutes of January’s Board meeting, and a disagreement between two Board members and an observing member of the public who was in attendance.

Board Chair, Ward Three City Councillor Brian Watkins, attempted to adjourn Tuesday’s meeting over the use of a hand-held recording device used by an observing member of the public.

The meeting at the Conservation Authority’s Fifth Line East office began with SSMRCA Board member Ken Lamming objecting to information contained within the minutes of the January 22 Board meeting.

Watkins, speaking to SooToday.com after Tuesday’s meeting, confirmed the written information in the minutes from the January 22 meeting Lamming protested to concerned the Pointe Estates development project.

The January meeting was filled with spirited debate, with a call from Board member Frank Manzo (Ward Six City Councillor) for the Board to rescind a December 13, 2012 decision by Board members, in a 3-2 recorded vote, to allow the Pointe Estates project to move forward for City Council’s consideration.

The 91-lot Pointe Estates subdivision project, put forward by Jeff Avery, of Avery Construction, has caused Conservation Authority staff considerable concern in regards to the effect it may have on the quantity and quality of wetlands in the development area and surrounding residential areas.

Pointe Estates would involve a parcel of land bordered by Pointe Aux Pins Drive, Dalgleish Road, the St. Mary's River, Alagash Drive and Pointe Louise Drive.

It would cover more than 200 acres of land and consume about 100 acres of wetland.

A lengthy report compiled by Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan-based hydro geologist Frank Breen in December 2011 expressed environmental concerns about the Pointe Estates subdivision project.

Another study submitted on Avery’s behalf in 2012, opponents of the subdivision say, did not contain sufficient study of the impact the subdivision would have on area wetlands.

At January’s SSMRCA meeting, then-Board Chair Lamming told Manzo no reconsideration of the Board’s December 3-2 recorded vote decision in favour of the subdivison project could take place before a 12-month period had passed.

Lamming objected to Manzo’s challenge to the 12-month claim within the minutes of the January 22 Board meeting, claiming they were based on Manzo’s opinion, not facts.

Manzo has insisted Lamming’s claim that a 12-month period must pass before any reconsideration of the Board’s decision can be made is not contained in the rules governing the SSMRCA Board.

Concerned citizen Bryan Dumanski has attended recent SSMRCA Board meetings, which are open to the public.

At January’s meeting, and at Tuesday evening’s meeting, he recorded SSMRCA Board meeting discussions regarding Pointe Estates with a hand-held device.

At Tuesday’s meeting, after the initial dispute over the January meeting’s minutes, Lamming told Dumanski he would need permission from the Board to record matters discussed at SSMRCA Board meetings.

Manzo protested, stating Board meetings are public and should be allowed to be recorded by members of the public.

Watkins and Lamming then voted to adjourn the meeting when Dumanski refused to turn off his device, their votes countered by Manzo and Board member Marchy Bruni, City Councillor for Ward Five.

Watkins then called for another vote to decide if Dumanski could continue his recording.  Watkins and Lamming voted against, while Manzo and Bruni voted in favour of the presence of the tape recorder.

Dumanski turned off his recorder and eventually left the meeting.

Watkins then told the Board he would investigate if public recordings of SSMRCA Board meetings can be allowed before the next Board meeting on March 19.

Also in attendance was concerned citizen Rick Gartshore, one of a group of citizens who has objected to the Pointe Estates development.

Gartshore left the meeting without making comment.

It is not clear at this point if Gartshore and others will initiate legal action against the development.

December’s SSMRCA Board meeting resulted in a 3-2 recorded vote by the Board in favour of moving the development forward for City Council to consider, despite considerable opposition by residents who live near the proposed Pointe Estates subdivision and environmental experts.

Watkins told us after Tuesday’s meeting “Pointe Estates is beyond our authority right now…it’s been approved and gone to Council.  It’s out of our hands now.  It’s behind us and I’ve got no comment on Pointe Estates.”

As for the question of public tape recording of SSMRCA Board meetings, Watkins said “if someone (a member of the public) would be courteous to ask us to tape it, that might be a different discussion…until I know otherwise I’m not in favour of having that as an official record as to what’s going on.”

 

Comments
20
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
seen_your 2/27/2013 4:18:45 AM Report

This does not remind me of George Orwell at all...
Grace 2/27/2013 6:41:57 AM Report

Now that it has gone to council. Will the council members Manzo, Watkins and Bruni be deemed or considered in a conflict of interest because they sit on both council and conservation?

My opinion yes. Anybody know for sure?
mixerman55 2/27/2013 7:53:32 AM Report

All meetings should be recorded by either City and public or news media,This would keep the story straight on who said what, where, and when.
AceOfBass 2/27/2013 7:53:52 AM Report

There is a conflict because these council members sit on the Board.The ethical thing would be to refrain from discussing the issue with other council members(voting influence)and leave chambers why debating and discussing and voting on the issue.

There is no Conflict of Interest as there is no financial gain by CA board.
There would be if any Board member gains financially from their vote.Proof must be provided.
shorty38 2/27/2013 8:06:08 AM Report

My question is why this subdivision is evan being discussed, the area in question is wetlands, wetlands are to be protected, not developted.
Does the law say it is ok to develop on wetlands if the developer has money to bypass the law of the common people.
deerhunter 2/27/2013 8:26:58 AM Report

think adout the wildlife in n on that land
billeh 2/27/2013 8:27:00 AM Report

I dont see where this city's going to find 100 new, high middle class home-owners ?

Build some kind of factory/production plant Avery !
More long term..
Grace 2/27/2013 8:32:12 AM Report

Thank you Ace.
Still trying to get my head around the Ward 3 Councillor objections to having the meeting taped. What would be said at an open meeting that shouldn't be heard?
Just wondering.
flyhawk25 2/27/2013 9:00:04 AM Report

Whatever happened to Robert's Rules of Order?
Had Brian Watkins looked it up he would have seen the proper way to adjudicate Mr. Manzo's objection.
This is starting to smell worse than the stuff beneath the water of the Alagash.
Ski-Dude 2/27/2013 9:04:47 AM Report

Guess the market is there for the housing???? Many new homes for sale all over in the new developments....many finished and empty! Still quite a few lots in those developments haven't even sold! I just don't see the Soo sustaining this development...haven't seen the news of our unemployment rate? Increasing tax rates? The Soo housing development market is soon to learn a hard lesson....as a developer, get in while it's still good! :rolleyes:
pruden 2/27/2013 9:15:30 AM Report

There really is a bad smell to this and me thinks Watkins has had his lot as a member of council for Ward 3.....but then again, they all have a good teacher don't they - Harper - he muzzles everything and goes ahead with whatever he wants to do dispite opposition so yes, I expect this development will go ahead.
Good point on the conflict of interest...didn't that happen at the recent PUC fiasco.....Board members voted at council re: Pat Mick and the other one.
IB-fine 2/27/2013 9:56:01 AM Report

Seems to me if half the land is wetlands that need to be protected, only approve half of the project that isn't on wetlands.

I remember in high school science going tripping thru the bogs and wetlands out there. I didn't even know we had bogs around here until that day. Excellent place for students to learn about wetlands, not a builder to fill it in and ruin this habitat for all kinds of wildlife.

I agree with the others on occupancy, lots of empty subdivisions now that were build on spec, don't need to ruin the wetlands for houses that might not sell.
jnl 2/27/2013 11:07:25 AM Report

I agree with most of the comments here about recent developments being left vacant. Great Point, we don't need another subdivision at the expense to our wetlands.
I live out in that area and would hate for those wetlands to be destroyed just think of the wildlife in the area. Wetlands are to be protected, unforuntely the "old boys club" will come thru and whoever has had there pockets lined to make this happen will be the only winners in it.
HowAbooutSomeLogic 2/27/2013 11:36:52 AM Report

lol "This is starting to smell worse than the stuff beneath the water of the Alagash."

well said.


Some of you guys n gals are such hypocrites, though.

How many of you speak out against the Harper gov't's abolition of environmental studies being necessary on a far grander scale than a couple hundred acres, presumably because of all the 'jobs' and 'stimulus' it provides the economy?
You know, 'ethical oil' and all that?

Any time you replace our natural environment with a development it is of detriment to the environment and 99.999% of humanity...but you guys are all for private property, right?
Mr. Avery owns this property.
He owns it for reasons other than the preservation of the wetlands, clearly.
Are his intentions noble? Perhaps not, but he has as much a right to do with his land as he wishes as any of you, regardless of how well it sells, or how many beavers are forced to emigrate.

If you guys care about the environment you all know there are far bigger fish to fry....think the reasons for which Fukushima is an ongoing disaster. Or the same for the Louisiana Sinkhole. Or the Tar Sands.

Or in your backyard
http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/259440/

I get it...you just like to complain and that's fine too.
firefly42 2/27/2013 1:25:22 PM Report

If what transpired is not recorded in the minutes, seems to me, recording the meeting is in order. If there is nothing to hide, why is he against the recording?

It's all about the $money$. Protecting the wetlands should be more important than money.
FirstChairLastCall 2/27/2013 1:58:53 PM Report

Similar to the case of the failed golf course in the east end. The owner wanted to develop it into housing but, was denied as the local home owners were sold their property based on green space in their back yard. So no, the owner of a property cannot necessarily do what they want with their land.

Are those lands protected? If so, nobody should be over turning that protection and approving any build. If protected, did the neighbours purchase their homes based on that land remaining wetland? (Not the only reason of course but, if it was a factor in their decision, they have a case)
Nimrod 2/27/2013 2:55:20 PM Report

Quote: And this too shall pass. end quote.
newcon 2/27/2013 5:06:35 PM Report

Maybe all of the "anti-Capitalist" crowd should move to a communist country. Cuba would be good seeing how 40% of the socialist/communist freaks in this country keep seeking to emulate castro's tyrranical policies. Take heed as to the current state of calamity facing the U.S., and it's all because there's a fool in the White House...a fool who wants everybody equally poor...you know steal from the rich and give to the perpetual poor. Maybe if the Avery Clan gave all of the opponents a few thousand $$$ things would be different??? Only those who won't profit from any development will whine.
If the opposition was serious about protecting this swamp then they would find the cash to purchase it from Avery and preserve it as they see fit...they just don't want Avery to profit(any more).
And I would take One Harper over a dozen trudeau's...tony martin doesn't even qualify for condemnation. Socialism has made useless eaters out of potentially good people and it's pathetic...poor Canada.

Newcon





















Norm 2/27/2013 5:08:53 PM Report

Some of the same people who are against the Avery development, have, and still are, using that land for snowshoeing skiing and some snowmobiling. Avery of course owns the land and has never stopped people from using it. Maybe he should stop them now, or at least the one's who oppose his dream of developing that ara.
right wing 2/27/2013 6:20:05 PM Report

Wetlands???

Read what little it takes to get a classification of wetlands.
No doubt written by enviro-wackos.
I suggest some of you, this spring, take a walk in the area being discussed...it is wet.
Abundance of wildlife...mosquitoes and flies are I suppose wild.
...and I should take anything that Manzo says seriously...the self appointed hydrologist...remember he stated that if the new recreational center was build on Goulais Ave it would without a doubt destroy all the aquifers.
Each year we can thank the residents of ward six for that treat.
Comments
20
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