Eastern District Planning Commission director John Bain appeared before Richmond Municipal Council on October 23.

ARICHAT: An application from a St. Peter’s resident to make changes to his property was approved by municipal council despite the objections of nearby property owners.

During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council on October 23 in Arichat, Eastern District Planning Commission (EDPC) director John Bain appeared before council about an appeal of a property variance on Pepperell Street in St. Peter’s.

Bain told council that property owner Terry Boudreau wants to vary a 50-foot set back from the high water mark of St. Peter’s Bay to a 20-foot set back from the road. Boudreau wants to construct a second dwelling on the property which is on a very small lot.

Bain said the variance is permitted under the Municipal Government Act, as well as the St. Peter’s Municipal Planning Strategy and is even supported by the municipal land use by-law.

What is complicating the matter, according to Bain, is that after he purchased the land in 1997 and built on it, Boudreau later learned there is a Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) right-of-way cutting through his property.

“There is no intentional disregard for the by-law,” Bain said of his reasons for approving the variance application in September.

One of those challenging the variance was St. Peter’s resident Germaine MacDonald who said she was also representing other neighbours who have expressed concern.

In 2006, she said Boudreau was unable to purchase the right-of-way from the DTIR due to the objections of abutting neighbours, but MacDonald said a few years later, Boudreau was able to purchase the land without notifying neighbours and without considering environmental impacts.

“As a taxpayer and a citizen of our county, I just find the subjectiveness of a lot of these processes is really mind-boggling,” MacDonald told council, taking issue with the fact that policies and procedures were followed in one instance, then ignored in the latter. “Why were the rules changed?”

MacDonald asked if other property owners are going to be compensated for a change in their set back, and if the tax base will be hurt if property values decline. This is in addition to her concerns over the effect this development could have on a nearby brook.

Representing his mother, Barry Bouchard also appealed the variance, telling council that people in the area are “very discouraged” by the development. He asked council if there will be limits on the height of the new building Boudreau is constructing and whether the site is appropriate for a second structure.

After purchasing the property 21 years ago and getting a survey done, Terry Boudreau told council he then applied for a permit based on that survey. He was later shown a survey done in 2001 which showed that the right-of-way was cutting through the bedroom of his home. To gain clear title to the right-of-way, Boudreau then approached nearby neighbours for their consent in 2006, but he said MacDonald refused even after his attempts to clean up and improve the property.

“My intention was never to expand that property,” Boudreau told council. “I feel pretty bad having to come here to defend what was done in the past.”

Boudreau said he has a good rapport with all his neighbours and assumed they were supportive when he visited them after he purchased the right-of-way.

“I’m not going to obstruct any view across the street,” Boudreau noted. “It’s certainly not our objective.”

After prolonged debate, council decided to approve the variance application.

“There was great debate on both sides of that and you kind’ve see both sides of everything and it comes down to trying to make a decision that’s fair and really consider the recommendation from the director of the Eastern District Planning Commission,” warden Jason MacLean noted. “He’s an employee of ours, we contribute to that, we hope that everything is getting done accordingly, and put some trust in that.”