Now it’s the Pine Beach Project

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Pine Beach: Nicanco’s name for its latest Sandy Beach development proposal. The key difference between the proposal presented Thursday and the zoning approved by referendum in 2001 is a third storey added to the two multi-unit structures at rear left.

A new name, 89 more doors, higher buildings, narrower streets and a PAE instead of a PIIA. That’s the crux of what urbanist Marc Perreault presented to a full house at last Thursday’s information meeting on Nicanco’s revised Sandy Beach development.

Renamed the Pine Beach Project, Version II would/will allow 41% greater density to compensate for 28.5% more protected space, the result of stricter development requirements imposed since 2001 by the provincial environment ministry. This slide from last Thursday’s presentation quantifies the differences:

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Although the town council and administrative staff were present, they played no part in Perreault’s presentation other than the mayor urging questioners not to hog the mic. The tone of the three-hour session was was generally courteous. To judge from the crowd’s reaction to the points made, opinion on the merits of the project was fairly evenly split.

Perreault’s questioners raised a range of valid issues. Many wondered whether the town has the potable water and sewer capacity to accommodate possibly 1,000 additional residents. Others questioned the integrity of the Technika HBA flora and fauna study on which the environment ministry issued certificates of authorization. A consensus emerged that the beach servitude isn’t wide enough and there would/will be friction between residents of the new development and the beachgoing public because Nicanco is making no allowance for public parking.

You may have noticed my use of the words would/will. This is because it’s still not clear whether any part of Nicanco’s proposal is subject to referendum. I was told the Sandy Beach project was recognized as a Plan d’implementation et d’intégration architecturale, or PIIA. According to town urban planning director Natalie Lavoie, Hudson’s Town Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC) recommended the project’s PIIA status sometime around 2004. According to the municipal affairs ministry’s (MAMOT’s) PIIA guidelines, integrated projects must conform to the town’s master plan.

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Top: Nicanco’s presentation included this sampling of typical Hudson architectural elements it proposes to integrate into the Pine Beach project’s townhouses and single-family units, bottom.

Between then and now, the project was transformed into a Plan d’aménagement d’ensemble, or PAE, a characterization which leaves the details to a municipality’s TPAC and urban planning department working in concert with the developer. The concern here, according to MAMOT, is that details tend to be overlooked. Perreault’s stock response last Thursday was that these things are difficult to foresee and must be worked out during the development process.

Asked what would happen if the project wasn’t approved, Perreault at first claimed it would revert back to the pre-2001 zoning allowing 29 single family homes (slide below). He corrected himself to say it would revert to the 2001 zoning, minus the additional wetland Nicanco has had to give up since, but including the beach servitude, now a notarized legal document. What I found interesting is that the view to the right still presents a beach servitude, suggesting that (a) this revision requires some form of approval, and (b) that they’re ready for a fight if it does. Does this mean Nicanco doesn’t want to revert to the 2001 zoning and densities provided in Bylaws 408 and 409? My understanding is that the 2001 referendum replaced the original single-family zoning, so it’s no longer an option. If not, then why pretend it is?

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Here’s the core problem: Over the next seven years, Nicanco proposes to sell the right to develop to a number of different builders, specializing in the type of construction permitted in that sector. Perreault skimmed over that part of his presentation because it’s clear Nicanco wants to be out of this as soon as possible, leaving the municipality the task of policing contractors.

Given taxpayer aversion to hiring more permanent staff, this will be a problem.

There is a solution.

Much of the increased density will be restricted to the western edge of the 60-acre site, immediately opposite the Hudson Legion curling rink, Manoir Cavagnal and the public daycare. The quadrilateral is enclaved by Beach Road, AMT’s right of way and Viviry Creek flood zone. Even those petitioning for the town to explore possibilities for the outright purchase of all or part of Sandy Beach have said they have no issue with densification in this sector.

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We’re behind the Manoir Cavagnal, looking north toward the river from the tracks. This is where Nicanco proposes to build two 100-unit three-storey condominiums. Beach Road is to our right; Wharf Road and the town’s sewage treatment plant is to our left. The fence was installed by Nicanco in 1998 to prevent access to the beach. Behind the gate is the Manoir’s former sewage treatment facility, abandoned since the Manoir connected to the town sewer system.

One suggestion to have emerged from last week’s information meeting: why not allow Nicanco to build high-rise towers in this western sector in exchange for public ownership of a much wider swath of land, including the beach? This fits with earlier suggestions to Nicanco that they densify upwards, generating more saleable water views while concentrating townhouse development in a ribbon along Royalview, thereby protecting those wetlands Nicanco is proposing to backfill.

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Nicanco is proposing to build twin 100-unit condos behind the Manoir Cavagnal. Would Nicanco be prepared to sign over the beach and eco-sensitive woodland and wetland in exchange for high-rise blocks with more river views to sell?

This might be the only compromise that will satisfy the need for public parking and access to the existing public roads. The loudest, most concentrated opposition to Nicanco’s proposal comes from those who fear the developer’s beach servitude could easily be revoked in the event that residents of the townhouses are unhappy about unauthorized parking and people traipsing across their common properties. The save-the-beach lobby makes a good point.

 

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23 thoughts on “Now it’s the Pine Beach Project

  1. I’m not 100% sure but the 2008 Technika HBA fauna and flora study was not the study used for the granting of the certificate of authorization by the Environment Minister. I believe the developer had his own biologist do a study which he presented to the Minister. Was this study done at the same time of year as the Technika study? Some flora especially might not have been evident. Personally, I have never questioned the 2008 Technika report but I have wondered why some things were left out in the new Hudson Conservation Plan, such as the Boisés d’Intérêts which are in the 2008 report.

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    1. Matt Brett and I recall the town commissioning the Technika HBA wetland/woodland audit in 2007 as a precondition to the developer receiving MDDEP certificates of authorization. Muhlegg was there that night. The whole point of that requirement was to ensure an impartial third-party evaluation. If you’re right, someone didn’t follow protocol. Easy to check with ministry.

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  2. It takes at least 3 months to get a zoning change done from start to finish, including:

    . Notice of Motion and Adoption of 1st Draft Bylaw
    . Pubic consultation meeting – council at this point can make changes before the next step
    . Notice of Motion and Adoption of 2nd Draft Bylaw
    . Notice of Registration Day in Local Papers (12 days +/-)
    . Registration Day – If sufficient # of signatures are gathered then either the bylaw dies or it goes to a referendum

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  3. They can present a notice of motion and adopt a draft zoning bylaw in a special meeting that has to be publicly posted 24 hours prior. Liz explained the process better than I could. If the proposed rezoning hits a wall of opposition the town can ask MAMOT through our local MNA to enable a PPU for the project. This would allow the town and developer to proceed without public approval (there is a consultation) but it would cost the current council politically. I see this becoming a major issue in November’s municipal election.

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  4. This is mostly for Liz and it’s not so relevant going onwards but there was some whining done by Mr. Perreault and by extension Mr. Muhlegg that they were screwed by the Town in that the rules were changed from 3 stories to a limit of 2 stories in the multi-family buildings sometime after the initial agreement(2002) around 2004. I never saw any documentation that they were to be 3 story as I recall on TPAC. If you look at his masterplan it is quite clear the footprints shown in 2002 and repeated in his 2017 version (exactly the same) could easily accomodate 118 apartments on 2 floors . His planner was the one who suggested the 118 multi-family units in 2002. TPAC never limited him in any way to footprint size . There was , I believe nothing in the original agreement changed on Mr. Muhlegg down the road. Just playing to the new council’s predilection for considering all former administrations as duplicitous. Such a transparent strategy. Mr. Muhlegg just asking for the square deal he was promised by the Town and screwed out of. Poor him.

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    1. I believe Mr. Perreault mentioned that the 3 stories were changed to 2 stories in 2012 or 2013? I’m sure he didn’t say 2004. When Liz asked me about whether I was aware, I told her I thought Mr. Perreault misspoke and meant to say from 2 stories to 3 stories as the downtown core was allowed from 2 to 3 which is something I fought for on council as the Chat was already 3 stories and would make it more financially attractive for a developper to do a project in the commercial core.. If he really said from 3 to 2 I am completely baffled. Why would this be done? So it was in 2004? Why if that is correct?

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    1. Note: edited my earlier angry and inappropriate post.

      Acronyms nobody (ok most people) knows the meaning of are usually a great way to fool the public.

      I’m not sure exactly what the process or result of a PPU is, but it seems it’s a way around the normal local zoning process where we involve our MNA. To what purpose could one use this end run, other than perhaps something essential to the safety or better good of the general public?

      Hudson would react badly to such an end run, and the Council and Nicanco needs to avoid bypassing public input at all costs. There are some excellent solutions being offered in other forums, free advice from some of our best and brightest experts in sustainable development. I would hope that Council follows such things and is not already decided towards acceptance but rather is involved in an active dialogue with townspeople’s ideas and the developer.

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  5. Some to-do about the non-linking of Sugarbush to the Sandy Beach proposal was emphasized at the presentation. It follows a long line of planning modus operandi in our Town. Whitlock West was prohibited from hooking up through Birchill , Hudson Valleys through Mt.Victoria, Quarry Hill through Mt.Pleasant , and Alstonvale through to 342 by Alstonvale Road. It usually stems from the affected neighborhoods ,in a sort of street nimbyism , wishing imagined traffic congestion on some other poor neighboring street. In the case of the Beach it’s wished on the community center and the helicoptering drop-off parents at St.Thomas. We need to stop doing this. Hooking up as many streets as possible is absolutely necessary to traffic dilution and efficient infrastructure concerning water and sewer. All planners know this but we continuously let this sort of mob selfishness rule our Town layout. Sugarbush absolutely should be hooked up to everyday traffic from the Beach. It was obviously planned that way in the past when the street itself was laid out. Another exhibition of the forward thinking of our 500K per year planning dept.

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    1. Brian, it just has to be planned well. I still think the Birch Hill access was wrong and that’s why I was one of the signatures to stop it even though I didn’t even live on that street. It also makes it more exclusive a project to go through the main entrance to the golf course especially since Birch Hill is narrow. The Hudson Valleys project not going through Mount Victoria was not a good idea as Mount Victoria could have been enlarged especially at the top. What it did is effectively cut off that enclave from the rest of the town. Key to anything is PLANNING. I can’t really see only one Beach Road access and exist for Sandy Beach with 300+ doors if that is what will be allowed. Just my 2 cents worth.

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  6. I notice the register for the Mayfair bylaw is this week, announced today. Need 83 signatures to force a referendum. I wonder how many of those who might sign are away?

    The Owner’s Association at the Timeshare we own votes by a link emailed to all registered owners?

    Is it time to start email voting on things like this?

    Or would that make it much harder to wait for the dead of winter to sneak changes through>

    The Birch Hill access to Whitlock West was blocked in the end by 8 signatures. The Birch Hill people were very organized and I wrote extensively and I’ll admit abusively against that flawed plan and I dragged my back door neighbor and his wife in to sign half an hour before, so it was very very close to not forcing a rethink.

    My conclusion: In an environment of disinterest and apathy, almost anything will pass under the very low bar we set.

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  7. Well we’ll disagree on the Birchill connection Diane. I personally never thought it was that scenic or exclusive the way they routed it past the whitlock parking lot with this mighty great gravel ditch flanking both sides. A few people at the top of Birchill and Brisbane were a little ticked that the connection was never made. Quicker way to 342 and the 40 for them. It was properly planned , it’s just that illogical hysteria swept the area at the time. Bad planning. Planning 101 says you connect as many roads as you can.

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  8. We will agree to disagree and that’s what’s good about living in Hudson. Whitlock West to me was and is a Whitlock Golf course project and a lot of buyers who bought there bought for the proximity to play their game. As far as Peter’s question about the 83 signatures required to pass the Mayfair project and whether the winter is the best time to do this? In my opinion absolutely not as many residents are gone for the whole winter at least Jan. Feb. and March. Someone had said well people go on vacation in the summer too so when can you have it? Most people go away in the summer for 2 or 3 weeks or on weekends. The winter is an excellent time to set up a registry if you are the developer and it almost guarantees not getting enough signatures. Council should not allow it. Also residents should have been notified by mail, not sure this was done, one ad in the local paper is not enough The residents who will be impacted should be able to express their wishes for or against, maybe with a signed form, scanned and email to town hall? After all if you bought in a “exclusive” area where homes start at 900.000, you are buying a certain lifestyle and if this changes I think it will not be that exclusive anymore. The other point I would like to make is I happen to live in Zone 35. way down on Main road, that area to be developed is pretty far from where I live but the current by-laws say I should have a say. I guess it’s all zones that touch the proposed new zone. It is my opinion that the residents of that association that is Allstonvale/Hudson Valleys are the ones to decide but let’s be democratic and make sure they really have their say. They might think it’s a great project and go for it but it seems to me one of the neighbors had garnered over 100 signatures of opposition. I hear she has moved. Has their councillor Nathalie Best canvassed her constituents? What about the people in Vaudreuil-Dorion on the 342 that will be impacted with having more neighbours abutting their property, is there a requirement that they be notified?

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  9. Huh , very quiet around here. They’re having a go at the Sandy Beach dog poop issue over on Hudsonites. Seems it’s quite a mess down there. Is there any reason at all to believe it wouldn’t just get worse under our Town’s ownership or that any other issues would be controlled like night closings and such. We have not proven ourselves very good at public space ownnership and vigilance and it very much puts my obsessions with greenspace development in serious doubt. I mean we can’t even get the boat ramp access cleared up over at Jack Layton and our good council is talking of setting up admission fees to the beach. Do these people feel that saying these things is the same as getting them accomplished?

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    1. Brian if you have visited Hudson’s new dog park you would be aghast at how many people do not pick up after their dog. I presume it’s the same at Sandy Beach. Disgusting…
      Funny I was reading in the local paper about the Sandy Beach presentation where the mayor is quoted as saying this project is good as we need to open up the waterfront to residents…hum….with the new proposed development 57% of the land will be green. Why do I feel this number includes private spaces? Sort of like the statement about we need the Mayfair development to attract young families. At 525,000 plus taxes??? please!!!

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  10. In the vacuum of silence comes the feeling that all is well and everyone agrees.

    Until enough people grumble, those of us who do are in the inconvenient minority and remain easy to not listen to.

    Frankly it’s public infrastructure in general that we are seriously deficient. First recognized formally at the end of the Corker administration when they left an “infrastructure to do” list behind that has been ignored by each council since.

    Instead, we spend on recreation and bureaucracy. That way we can have at least have some fun and be proud that eventually we’ll know exactly how much long ignored work the town needs that we won’t be able to afford.

    Small municipalities in Quebec: Designed to fail, doomed to fail sooner without leadership that aggressively balances wants as optional, needs as essential and revenue as critical.

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    1. I agree with you Peter to a point. Last council shored up MacCauley Hill; repaved Cote st Charles; finished paving Cameron; built a fire hall, etc. all while money was being siphoned off under their noses. I do agree with you though that we need leadership who will fix the essentials, give taxpayers value for money and stop listening to a select few who clamour for eco-trolleys, art centres, arts etudes programs (let’s leave that to the education department, we pay enough in school taxes). Was looking at notre dame de l’Ile Perot budget at 14million$ and they have over 10000 residents. Our council tried to make us swallow a 13Million$ budget for half the number of residents. Next council has to tighten the purse strings, or if they don’t residents will vote with their feet. towns have to be competitive. This council has never sold me on their ideas as I think they are grandiose and we really can’t afford them.

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