Mayfair choices

The proposed rezoning on Mayfair received enough (91 versus 83 required) signatures to force a referendum to pass the bylaw, or the bylaw is basically dead. Unless the town doesn’t listen and decides to fund a referendum to test the will of those who signed the register against the desire to build. I see both sides and agree in part with both views.

It’s not my style or taste, frankly I like eclectic diverse villages and am generally an anti-enclave.  I own 18,000 square feet of grass, hedges and trees in the village and frankly it’s a lot of work and cost, so I was never fond of the 30,000 square foot minimum set at that time it was zoned for Alstonvale and Hudson’s Valleys.

Nor am I fond of perpetual binding community development agreements with strict limits to what can be built including surfaces and exterior. That said, both developments are great assets to Hudson and I’m glad they have filled up and added to our population and taxation rolls. Hudson never really welcomed and included that area in our collective thinking to match the value that has been added to our town.

All that said, those current owners who built and bought those beautiful brick and stone homes with uni-stone driveways  have a clear right to protect their investment by resisting change as they see fit. Essentially the current community are able to hoist the developer on his own petard and prevent the changes that could make selling and building that short vacant section of Mayfair easier in today’s marketplace. I do wonder how much the proposed changes could have actually shifted the marketplace or value of the existing homes.

I think on this round one that we’ve missed a good  opportunity for some smaller high end homes with lower operating costs. I’ve lived in a fine old Montreal downtown row house and semi-detached street two blocks from the old Montreal forum. Well built multi-story brick homes with slate roofs, lane for garage and services access. A great place to live, populated by average people through captains of industry  as I might have expected the semi-detached homes on Mayfair would be great places to live.

I’ll anxiously await the decision of the town as well as any revisions they developer might try to make to resurrect this project. Frankly I’d rather see homes than vacant lots, a completed community rather than an unfinished one.

I’ll state clearly that I’m against the cost and divisive process of a referendum. I believe that it’s really all in the hands of the developer now, perhaps he can revise and persuade through something  that will be different enough to be acceptable to the affected community.

I really do hope they try again and eventually succeed, the marketplace and market pricing  for large brick mansions is shrinking as quickly as our town spending is rising and we don’t really need more huge homes.

The details, our soul is all in the details

Like Johnny Carson as Karnak, I’m holding the sealed envelope to my turban and looking into the future. I see:

I can’t shake the feeling that Hudson Council will simply table a rezoning of Sandy Beach exactly as per the developers Pine Beach proposal. This may even happen Monday night at March council.

Hudson should, in my opinion, but likely won’t charge the developer either a per connection or blanket contribution for the infrastructure of Hudson’s Brick Shithouse Sewage Treatment Plant. The explanation will be that we have the capacity and need the development, so the developer will benefit at the expense of Annex A ratepayers who won’t be consulted about the  future use of excess capacity that we have funded. If and when future developments, or Birch Hill for example require sewage treatment, the cost will be much higher. Nicanco, if they don’t pay a reasonable cost for sewage treatment infrastructure, will have a gift that drops right to their bottom line and limits the opportunity to better allocate those resources. Simply put, I believe that we should end the Pine Beach development with exactly the same excess capacity we had before it was developed and that until the whole town has sewage developers must replace what they will consume.

Same thing on water. Hudson doesn’t yet have a costed future plan for water capacity, so we’re not yet in a position to actually name a price for the water required by the 316 doors to be approved. Well or Lake? If we don’t know yet, how can we name a price that matches what we need to spend. If we agree to a deal for shared costs on water, we’ll simply have no idea if it’s a good one or not. Elsewhere on this blog the unlistened to have debated and logically concluded that we should should consider a lake supply around Thompson Park treated in a new plant just across Main Road and connected to our existing network. Solve both future capacity and West End water issues as well as offer water for sale to parts of Vaudreuil Dorion and St. Lazare.

The Pine Beach plan could be significantly improved for the protection of Sandy Beach while still allowing an exceptional development. For example wider buffers have been well proposed by competent citizens, but we’ll probably find that the community will have no leadership or will to stall the development by requesting such changes. We could hold to the original zoning numbers, but won’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a very pro-development person. We can’t buy Sandy Beach at market value, it will be developed. I have suggested many times over the years, to successive councils, that Hudson needs to develop Sandy Beach, Ellerbeck’s and R-55 as high priorities.

In spite of what the idealists and dreamers say or think, we have long passed the fiscal turning point  where we could survive without significant numbers of new taxable properties to help pay for the irrational excesses of decades of growth in bureaucracy and spending that has resulted in a tripling of our expenses over the past 15 years with stagnant population.

We have filled this swamp with debt and spending, we must have development soon. But if we rush we’ll do it badly and divide a community.

Development usually pits the wants of our citizens against the needs of a developer for profit. Both sides are wrong at first. A delicate balance must be struck between the idealists and the capitalists, and into the chasm separating the two is only Town Council or possibly a referendum.

We will see a new Council elected in November, and that Council will have to live with and resolve all of the good and the bad results from this Council. Hell, in some world it may even be the same Council, but I’m just not getting those vibes.

The responsible thing on Sandy Beach would to hold public consultations and have a committee including a balanced group of citizens to negotiate with the developer quickly towards a better compromise.  Instead, I think we’ll see weakness, a quick acquiescence and acceptance without demands for better and a simple decree that we need to do this without adequate reasons that we really need to do it.

I really want to be wrong about this. This is not simply a political or fiscal issue. It sits at the root of our community soul. I believe that this issue contains everything Hudson needs to either heal itself, or to finish destroying itself. In these beautiful wetlands we can find ourselves again as a cohesive community or finally finish losing ourselves.

You want proud, so do I.

I am the eternal optimist: I hope to one day soon walk from Jack Layton Park to Sandy Beach, proudly in close proximity to an exceptional new showcase development embraced by the majority of our community and welcoming those who have chosen Hudson’s best new development as a new place to live or a way to stay.

In life we find exceptional not by simple acceptance of average, by being demanding of excellence.

So, watch closely for what our leaders are demanding from the developer. If we demand nothing but simply accept what they’ve offered, we’ll get exactly the mediocrity proposed.

I believe we must, as a community, at least try to do better.