Warning to developers: Hudson doesn’t want you and will make your life hell.
The latest sighting of Hudson’s true anti-development colours came near the start of Monday’s February council meeting.
It’s the part where the councillors take turns reading the decisions of the Town Planning Advisory Committee. I tape these singsong recitations because they’re the only tangible proof that something has been decided since this administration has seen fit to turn TPAC into a policy instrument and ceased posting TPAC minutes online.
“448-450 Main Road: Commercial/residential project R443, considering this project subject to SPAIP (site planning and architectural integration program) Bylaw 571
First submitted in February 2014, with [four subsequent meetings], TPAC does not recommend preliminary rendition of the preliminary proposal for mixed building project.
“Members of TPAC do not see justification for extension of corridor between the buildings. In addition, both sides of the building should be connected as one building as per national building code. It is proposed by Durand, Woodhead that council agrees with TPAC that extension does not meet security and technical norms and that they can be joined underground to permit more parking and aesthetics.”
Josie Pascoe, owner/developer of the commercial/residential project at 448-450 Main Road, was stunned by this latest twist of the Hudson screw. “I had no idea what’s happening,” she told me Tuesday. “There’s no openness, no communication.”
Pascoe had planned to start construction of a 12-unit condominium block this spring, but after two years of negotiations with TPAC and Hudson’s urban planning department, she sounds ready to toss in the towel.
“Is it really worth going on? It’s not as if Hudson has an excess of major projects demanding attention,” she said. “They should give their people a mandate to get things done…if something doesn’t agree with them, they should pick up the phone, find solutions.”
She has already dropped money and energy into the total rehab of the 100-year-old former Habib’s, to the benefit of the entire community. Included in the commercial reno was the sales office for a dozen condo units in a separate building to the rear of 448-450 Main. Hudson’s zoning bylaws allow only one building per lot, so the plans for the condo included a glass-enclosed breezeway joining the old and the new.
Two years later, these clowns are asking her to forget the breezeway and build a tunnel.
If Pascoe decides she’s had enough of being jerked around, she’s not alone. Remember Chris Vinson, the hopeful Hudson resident who wanted to build an office/retail complex on Cameron opposite Cunningham’s? Cunningham’s enjoys taxpayer-subsidized parking; all Vinson was asking was the right to be able to claim access to a few public parking spaces along the mini-park opposite his property so he could satisfy the town’s selectively applied parking requirements. Even though he was ready have the park space landscaped to the town’s specifications at his expense, he was turned down. Instead he was told his clients could hoof it the 300 feet up to the former medicentre at 98 Cameron.
So rather than incur the cost of maintaining the two derelict structures on the double lot, he had them torn down.
Hudson’s stiff parking requirements for multi-unit residences and commercial properties are famously flexible when it comes to an administration’s pet projects. One of the councillors who refuses to explain to Pascoe the reasons why she’s being jerked around was all aglow at Monday’s meeting about a project to build a three-storey apartment block in the Wyman Memorial United Church parking lot. Unlike Pascoe’s proposed condo block, it would have no basement and therefore no underground parking. Wyman would retain the land but lose its parking, presumably because it would continue to enjoy public parking on the municipal lot at the corner of Main and Selkirk. If that isn’t a double standard, I’m the Pope.
Never mind that Hudson already has R-55, a 12-acre site off Côte St. Charles zoned for a seniors’ continuing-care campus. Never mind that Hudson has already been screwed twice by unscrupulous developers who promise an assisted-care seniors facility when they get their permit, then renege on the deal.
Louise Villandré, Hudson’s former town manager who is to be sentenced February 22 after pleading guilty to charges of fraud and abuse of trust, was far more honest in ensuring that people knew what was happening at the administrative level and why.
At first it was a joke, people wondering if the Town of Hudson could have Louise back to clean things up at town hall. It’s not funny any more.