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City Council to decide on Pointe Estates Monday

Saturday, July 13, 2013   by: Darren Taylor

City Council will decide whether to approve the proposed Pointe Estates subdivision development at its regular meeting Monday.

The proposed development remains embroiled in controversy and is scheduled to go before provincial courts in Sudbury in October.

The Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority Board, in a 3-2 recorded vote at its December 13, 2012 meeting, approved sending the development application from developers Jeff and Patricia Avery to Council as the next step in the application process.

Voting in favour of that move at that December meeting were then-Board Chair Ken Lamming, Brian Watkins (current Board Chair and Ward Three City Councillor) and then-Board member and former Ward Six City Councillor Ozzie Grandinetti.  Board members Marchy Bruni and Frank Manzo (current City Councillors for Ward Five and Six, respectively) voted against.

A motion put forward by Manzo at the Conservation Authority Board’s March 19, 2013 meeting to rescind the Board’s December 13, 2012 vote was not allowed to be tabled by Watkins.

Board member Ken Lamming has also claimed that the December 13, 2012 vote cannot be rescinded before a 12-month period has passed.

Opponents have questioned that claim by Lamming.

The December vote by the Conservation Authority Board came in spite of concerns about the proposed Pointe Estates subdivision development expressed by Conservation Authority staff, concerns expressed in reports by environmental experts, and based on concerns and opposition voiced by residents who live near the proposed subdivision.

Opponents insist the development would harm the quantity and quality of the water supply in the Pointe Estates development area, including the St. Mary’s River, and affect residents who live nearby.

It is also felt the subdivision would adversely affect wildlife in the area.

In March, Sault Ste. Marie lawyer Helen Scott, representing the nearby residents who identify themselves as the Pointes Protection Association, presented Watkins, as the Conservation Authority Board Chair, with documents stating the Board’s December vote will be taken to provincial court.  

At that time, Scott told SooToday.com the legal action’s purpose is “to review the resolutions that were passed December 13, 2012 to permit this development, and the evidence that was submitted in support of that application".

Scott has stated the argument of those opposed to the proposed development is based on the belief that environmental tests of the area concerned, carried out on developer Jeff Avery’s behalf, are not sufficient.

Scott told us: “(The Conservation Authority Board) is supposed to ensure certain things will not be negatively impacted.  They didn’t do that.”

According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), the wetland on the property in question is “not provincially significant.”

However, opponents clearly maintain the property’s wetland is significant enough to warrant a legal challenge to the Board’s December decision.

Toronto-based planning consultant Anthony Usher, in a report dated July 9, 2013 and addressed to the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Planning Director, recommends the application should be refused.

Concerns over the Pointe Estates development have been raised for several years, pre-dating the Conservation Authority’s December vote.

An independent 38-page report prepared for the Conservation Authority in December 2011 by Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan-based hydrogeologist Frank Breen also expresses environmental concerns about the proposed development.

It should be noted, however, that Breen, both in his report and in an e-mail to SooToday.com, emphasized he is neither opposed to or in support of the development, but from a professional viewpoint, he feels the project poses a potential risk to the area and nearby residents that Council needs to address.

Property owners Jeff and Patricia Avery want Council’s approval to build a 91-lot single detached rural estate subdivision south of Pointe Aux Pins Drive, west of Dalgleish Road, north of Alagash Drive and Pointe Louise Drive.

Approval of the application would require the closing of part of Alagash Drive and construction of a new access road at 248 Pointe Louise Drive.

The area concerned is 102 hectares (252 acres) in size.

Council’s approval, a City staff report states, would come with no less than 12 conditions being met, one of which is that the developer provide a detailed development plan from a qualified engineer, integrating recommendations of studies supporting the application, and that all construction be done under the supervision of a qualified engineer under a regular monitoring program.

City Council’s consideration of the matter at this point in time is considered, by some, controversial in itself.

Council agreed, by a vote of 12-1 at its June 10, 2013 meeting, to agree to hear from the developer and opponents at Monday’s upcoming meeting.

Opponents state Council should not consider the matter at all until it is thrashed out and settled in court.

City Solicitor Nuala Kenny told Council at its June 10 meeting that it may indeed consider the matter at this time because the City of Sault Ste. Marie has not been named in connection with the upcoming court proceedings.

City Planning Director Don McConnell, at the June 10 meeting, told Council if the courts rule against the development, any further discussion of the matter by Council and the Conservation Authority will come to an end. 

Councillor Frank Manzo, who has been the most passionately vocal opponent of the proposed development, voted against discussion of the matter by Council until the courts deal with it.

The legal papers filed in court by Helen Scott in Sault Ste. Marie in March, copies of which were given by Scott to Watkins, state the Conservation Authority Board’s Resolutions #103/12 and #104/12 on December 13, 2012 “are illegal and invalid,” running contrary to the Conservation Authorities Act, and Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority Regulation of Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses, as amended under the Conservation Authorities Act. 

The documents state that the Board “exceeded its jurisdiction by passing Resolution #103/12 and Resolution  #104/12 with no reasonable evidence to support its decision.”

While Scott represents the Pointes Protection Association, the Conservation Authority is retaining legal counsel by Sault lawyer John Paul Paciocco in the matter.

Comments
12
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boogie 7/14/2013 12:10:58 AM Report

Wal Mart, Home Depot, subdivision on former Queemsgate golf course, park near MacDonald Avenie, Poimte Estates, etc, etc....

Every time a developer or the city wants to move this city forward or at least bring forward some progressive thinking, there seems to be opposition. If this city doesn't get with the times, and attract a younger population to stay and live here, we're going to be the next ghost town on the map. Let's think big Sault Ste. Marie!
Honestysucks 7/14/2013 1:58:29 AM Report

When you have people that vote for people like Frank Manzo! You know you’re in a city that has problems! Too many problems say not in my back yard!! Sault needs to start seeing the big picture!!!
ssmchic 7/14/2013 8:29:07 AM Report

Wouldn't you think that if someone is going to invest this kind if money into a project, they're going to do their homework first to make sure they get a return on that investment? Come on sootoday, there are two sides to every story.
jnl 7/14/2013 8:36:50 AM Report

I think the big picture is that the residents of Sault Ste Marie want to make sure that the development of this property isn't going to negatively affect this area. I give them credit for standing up for this land. I really don't think that it is "getting with the times". I am sure that if you live directly in this area that you would feel the same way too. It is a huge project that is going to affect essential everyone that lives out there, wildlife, wetlands and ecosystems. If everything is done above board and to the books then there shouldn't be anything to worry about when decision times comes. As for Manzo, at least he has the guts to stand up for what he believe and doesn't worry about being liked or the next election. It goes to show that he listens to the complaints he is dealt and gets action for the ppl. Ppl wouldn't re-elect him so many times if he wasn't doing his job well..
It will be interesting to see the outcome of the estates. Personally I would like to see a much smaller # of homes going in as I think 91 is a huge # for the area they are proposing.
Grump 7/14/2013 8:45:02 AM Report

The three posters ahead of me sound like young people, I'm not. All the same it's good to see young people thinking and speaking up. It seems there is hope for the next generation or two. They apparently see through all this self serving NIMBY crap and don't like it. Well done.
maniacs 7/14/2013 10:53:43 AM Report

Yeah, let's just go ahead and wipe about just about all the natural forest/wetland that's left in that end of our city...Great idea, that's 'moving forward' alright.

There is so much more to this than whether or not they will get a 'return on investment'. Of course they will! It's housing... in 15-30 years it will pay itself off tenfold, I'm sure.... This isn't about the Sault 'getting with the times' or 'seeing the big picture'.... If you're worried about the Sault becoming a ghost town, sorry, but a couple extra houses way out in what is some of the nicest wetland area the Sault has left to offer (it's closer than Harmony/Agawa/Batchewana/Haviland/Goulais AND still within city limits ... this isn't going to turn our city into a bustling nerve centre....

We need things for the people that already live here to do, houses for more (rich) people to live in.... because then what? Those people will move in and realize, hey, there's sweet FA to do in this town, why did we come here again? For the beautiful scenery out here? Oh wait, that's FU$%*NG GONE! Wildlife? GONE!

Give your heads a good shake or two people .... this isn't the right way to go. That wetland goes, and the ecosystem of this entire city starts to change.... You think there's a bear problem in the city now? Let's see what happens when they have nowhere to live this side of the Goulais River .....
Norm 7/14/2013 10:59:30 AM Report

Let them build, it's good for all. the Natives put wind farms on their land for big cash, noN much difference.
trackyak 7/14/2013 11:26:15 AM Report

As usual you people say you are concerned about wetlands and wildlife but you all know this is about money.A few people who live close to the proposed development are worried their taxes will skyrocket and someone else will cash in on an idea they wish they'd thought of..right! They will go from living in a quiet area to a not so quiet area..I guess nimby-ism isn't limited to the people who's homes are surrounded by phony solar panels and fake windmills huh?
Y.B.P.C. 7/14/2013 11:32:26 AM Report

'Maniacs' and other readers tricked by environmental reports,

Northern Ontario is gigantic! It comprises 87% of Ontario's land mass and houses only 6% of Ontario's population. Do you think that, relatively speaking to the rest of the province, we can absorb a small housing development?!

Sault Ste. Marie should count itself lucky that business owners, like the Avery's, are willing to take on such risk that will only help spur on a sputtering local economy!

Also, 'maniacs', I implore you to read some economic theory or borrow someone's business sense as I assure you this investment will not pay off "10-fold".....
openminded13 7/14/2013 1:50:06 PM Report

Those of you responding in support of the proposed development and the supposed 'boost to the economy' are completely overlooking the fact that this is an ENVIRONMENTAL issue. This is not a case of nimbyism anymore than it is an economical issue - the proposed development has not conducted the appropriate studies to prove that the development will not detrimentally impact the surrounding ecosystems and watershed. A full hydrogeological study was not conducted, and therefore there is significant reason to believe that the quantity and quality of the water supply in the Pointe Estates development area, including the St. Mary’s River, will be negatively impacted by the proposed development and its installation of 91 wells and 91 septic systems to service them, on an existing wetland! Not to mention the imbecility of building a dead-end canal to provide these homes with 'waterfront access'. There is a perfect example of the ineffectiveness of such a canal right in front of them in the form of the Alagash - a stagnant swamp. C'mon people...

The responses thus far are perfect examples of closed mindedness and a lack of awareness of the actual issues at hand. It's so simple to say "yay for development," when you are ignorant of the considerable flaws associated with the proposed development. Get informed! Go to Council this Monday and hear the opponents presentation, read a report or two produced by those who are concerned about the development, or at the very least dig your heads out of the sand!
sunnie 7/14/2013 5:13:47 PM Report

Well said JNL...
D0BBER 7/15/2013 6:56:56 AM Report

Maybe the voices arent so much in favor of the project as much as against the blocking of it. The prevailing mind set in the Sault has been to block all progress in favor of the "not in my backyard" mind set. One small problem is while the decision makers were guarding against big business they let the backyard crumble and become overgrown with weeds.

As to the environmental studies, wouldnt the companies that are building want to ensure that the project is going forward before spending tens of thousands of dollars on full environmental impact studies ?
Comments
12
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.
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