Utility and Review Board denies appeal of property variance

HALIFAX: The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) has denied another appeal of a property variance in St. Peter’s.

On November 30, the UARB dismissed an appeal by Clair Bouchard and Donald J. MacNeil of a variance for a property at 9137 Pepperell Street in St. Peter’s.

Ruling that it had “no jurisdiction to hear the appeal,” the UARB explained in its decision that the Municipal Government Act does not allow for a further appeal to the board outside of municipal council.

During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council on October 22 in Arichat, an application from St. Peter’s resident Terry Boudreau to make changes to his property was approved by municipal council despite the objections of nearby property owners.

Eastern District Planning Commission (EDPC) director John Bain told council that 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 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.

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.

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

Representing his mother Clair, 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 proposing and whether the site is appropriate for a second structure.

After purchasing the property 21 years ago and getting a survey done, 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.

Noting that he has no plans to expand his property or obstruct anyone’s views, and that he is very concerned with the condition of the nearby brook, 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.