Sandy Beach: My questions

 

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Thursday evening, Hudson residents will have the opportunity to closely question developer Nicanco Holdings on the visual, environmental and fiscal impact of their revised Sandy Beach development. 

This week produced a flood of documents relating to the Sandy Beach development. I’ve distilled them into a dozen questions looking for clear answers at Thursday evening’s public consultation on Nicanco Holdings Inc.’s request to revise the 2001 zoning and density bylaws. Thanks to all who shared this information.

The deeper I dig into what has gone on since Hudson residents approved the development of Sandy Beach in 2001, the more concerned I am that we’re not asking the right questions.

This isn’t about whether Sandy Beach should be developed. That has already been decided by referendum, followed by regulatory approvals by provincial, regional and local governments. This is about how Sandy Beach will be developed and the impact it will have on the natural beauty of this place. It’s about whether Hudson’s taxpayers will be saddled with the collateral costs of development.

Density and visual impact

– What is the proposed residential density being sought? How does it compare with the density approved in 2001? What will the result look like? 

According to Quebec’s lobbying register, Nicanco’s urban planning consultant Marc Perreault is mandated to lobby the Town of Hudson for approval of a residential development including single-family homes and multi-family units of two to four storeys and a density of at least 40 units per hectare.

I’ve been told Nicanco’s development footprint has been reduced to 12.5 hectares as a result of wetland trades authorized by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, and Action against Climate Change (MDDELCC) to bring this project into conformity with the town’s yet-to-be-approved conservation plan. Pro-mayor Deborah Woodhead confirmed at last week’s council meeting the revision would allow 210 doors.

Three storeys are the height of the Chateau du Lac, Westwood Senior and the new condos at 450 Main. Hudson currently has no four-storey structures. Now picture yourself in a kayak 500 feet offshore and imagine what that would look like. Pierrefonds. Laval.

Drinking water and wastewater

– What is the estimated potable water budget for 210 residential units? How is the town proposing to guarantee the additional volume? 

During summer peak usage periods, Hudson consumes 300 cubic feet more per minute than its wells produce, drawing down the town’s water reserves. Recent fires have shown the town is vulnerable to serious pressure drops even in winter.

– How is Nicanco proposing to connect its project to the municipal sewer system? Does the system have the capacity to handle in excess of 200 new doors? If not, how much will the upgrade cost? Who will pay for it?

Nicanco proposes to run a collector the full length of Royalview and westward to include proposed multi-unit development on R-22. The above document confirms Nicanco withdrew its request for a sewer line running under the AMT right-of-way to the existing town pumping station in the Legion Curling Club parking lot. We believe Nicanco now proposes to save time by using an existing line under the tracks which had connected Manoir Cavagnal to its pre-sewer septic system.

– Is the former Manoir Cavagnal sewer line and existing pumping station capable of handling peak sewage flow from 210 doors? (The Manoir has fewer than 100). Can it be upgraded without a new certificate of authorization? What impact will it have on the tax bills of sewered property owners?

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– Will raw sewage from Nicanco’s project be allowed to dump into the Viviry? Under what conditions? What constitutes an emergency?

What’s important in this diagram is how the emergency overflow from the Beach pumping station flows directly into the Viviry opposite the Legion. I’ve been told this pumping station has been problematic from Day 1. The existing certificate of authorization (CA) from the MDDELCC allows emergency-only discharge into the Viviry – but this is without the addition of Nicanco’s 210 doors.

Conservation

– What has been and will be done to protect wetlands, woodlands and rare, at-risk and endangered species they contain?

In October 2010 Nicanco Holdings Inc. applied to MDDELCC for permission to backfill a 1.58-hectare (3.9 acre) wetland. In March 2014 MDDELCC approved an internal wetland trade which allows the developer the right to backfill 1.58 hectares (3.9 acres) in exchange for moving 2.33 hectares (5.75 acres) into the conservation zone. This trade was largely based on data collected for the 2008 Technika-HBA flora/fauna audit. The audit team’s findings regarding the presence of rare, at-risk and endangered species have since been challenged. I doubt this will have much of an impact on development plans, but it does nothing to reassure environmentalists the town and the MDDELCC are on the case.

Public access

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If you can pull the above map up to 300% magnification, follow the thin T-profile red line along the lake. I think this is the 25-year flood line. Now compare this with the map below:

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Nicanco’s developable footprint has been reduced to 56% of the total land area, making beach access a major bargaining chip.
None of the documents I’ve seen so far indicate whether the beach servitude is taken from the mean high water line, chart datum line or to 25-year flood line.
The best scenario for beach users would be the 25-year line because it extends well past the road into the woods.
This reinforces my point that whoever is negotiating this for the town needs to know the file backwards.

Here’s an example of how the town could lose control: In March 2015, Nicanco signed a notarized Restriction of Use agreement transferring approximately one hectare to the existing conservation zone. Under this agreement, Nicanco retains ownership. This restriction of use agreement prohibits lawns, landscaping, pruning or cutting of underbrush, pesticide use, recreational facilities, garden furniture and sheds or storage but allows walking, skiing, snowshoeing, berry picking and pest control. It also allows the cutting of dead and dangerous trees with a permit from the town up to 15% of the total canopy over 15 years.

However, it gives special tree-cutting status to the owners of two lots.

– Explain the location and significance of this and other restriction-of-use agreements in plain language.

The only existing house on Royalview, one of five single-family dwellings authorized, is currently connected to a septic tank even though it is located in the 100-year flood zone.

– Will these five doors be connected to the sewer system?  

Nicanco has the option of running an access road connecting Royalview with Quarry Point Road opposite Green Lane.

– Will the town approve a road connection to Royalview via Quarry Point Road?

Until a rezoning bylaw is presented, everything is on the table. The current administration has a narrow window of opportunity to cut a better deal than the 2001 agreement. The worst that could happen is a reversion to Bylaws 408 and 409. The worst? A referendum approving a much worse arrangement that will end up costing the town money it doesn’t have to deal with infrastructure issues I’ve raised.

 

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12 thoughts on “Sandy Beach: My questions

  1. Impressive! It is so helpful to see the issues so clearest presented days away from this pivotal meeting. Thank you!
    Hopefully, these questions will be allowed, recorded and respectfully answered.
    I hope that greater mutual respect and care will grow between the Elected, Management, Residents and Lobbyists out of this excercise in democracy. See you Thursday.

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  2. I don’t know how it fits with the convolutions of Quebec Municipal laws, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to as a developer to fund required infrastructure to handle expansion.

    This should perhaps include a capital cost buy-in on approval for existing water structure and sewage structure, or a lump sum to assist the town in adding capacity where existing capacity isn’t sufficient.

    It seems fair, at least to me, to insist that a developer pay to add enough capacity for sewage and water to handle his project. Otherwise, the entire taxpayer base will fund it with long term debt.

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  3. I do not believe there is anything in our current bylaws that could force Nicanco to pay for a new water source. It could however be a condition for a new zoning change on Sandy Beach as was done in the case of Hudson Valleys and Alstonvale back in the 80s.

    The developer (s) in this case was required to supply and install a new well according to town specifications that would service the area as a condition for the zoning change. Once the well was up and running and providing a certain capacity – only then would the town assume ownership and maintenance of same. As it turned out, the entire area come under two different owners – Rodrigue and Norris who each had to provide a well for their respective developments.

    The sewage treatment plant was designed to take into consideration the proposed development at Sandy Beach after the zoning change in 2001 that permitted roughly 150 +/- dwelling units.

    I would assume that an additional 60 units would not pose a problem but this should be checked with the firm who designed the treatment plant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I posted on that (Hudson’s Brick Shithouse) but have not been able to get a straight answer. Another question for Thursday evening. At this point people should be printing them out and sharing so they’ll be sure to be asked.

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    2. The additional 60 units (if that’s all) would, if approved, come out of future capacity which could service existing properties in great need.

      I think the same way about Ellerbeck’s intended connection to the sewers, and if Sandy Beach gets the green (pun intended) light then someone’s going to have to fund capacity to allow development with sewers. If they can’t fund sewers they’ll have to install expensive septic. So a per connection charge that approximates 50% of a septic system is probably not going to kill a project, but will fund expansion of the facility.

      I’d rather see all excess current design capacity allocated to existing village locations where it’s needed most.

      Without more money for sewers capacity the extra units should be off the table, in my humble sewered opinion.

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  4. I drove down to Sandy Beach this past weekend.

    The Town of Hudson signs all say NO SWIMMING.

    I’d understand SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK.

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