Letter to the editor 3, May 11, 2017

Time to rethink waterfront development

Dear Editor,

On May 23, Mayor Ed Prévost and his council are scheduled to present their revised zoning plan for the Town of Hudson. Given our current flooding disaster, the meeting should be delayed. Here is why.

One of the major features of the mayor’s plan to boost the population and thus the revenue base of the town has been to develop the woodland area adjoining Sandy Beach. Decades ago, a previous mayor and council could have acquired the entire ­­­­property for a the price of a small house today, but they did not and the whole area, woods and beach together, were later legitimately acquired by the current owner, Nicanco Holdings.

Over the years, Nicanco has presented several development proposals. The current one is for 256 residential units, including approximately seven multi-unit blocks at the west end , seven or more townhouse blocks scattered across the central area of woods, and six high-end lakefront single-family houses at the east end. There is one such house there already and its owners have been forced to erect long sandbag barriers and bring in pumper trucks to hold back rising lake water.

On May 9, I walked with a friend from the service road south of the woods to the beach. There was no Sandy Beach visible; there are a few trees standing in the lake; the walking path running west through the woods to Jack Layton Park is totally flooded; and lake water has spread at least 300-ft inland at various areas through the woods.

So there are a few obvious issues. Who will buy a multi-million dollar house where there has been recent serious flooding? Who wants to build or buy townhouses in an area that already contains sections of wetland and has now been partially flooded? How can the town continue to push for approval of the current development proposal – and equally, why should Nicanco want to stick to it - in face of the very obvious evidence of potential flooding?

The Nicanco plan is 256 new dwellings out the total 362 proposed. We have to get it right. I ask the town delay this presentation for a month at least, to give Nicanco the time to produce a revised Sandy Beach development that is truly feasible – and to allow residents the time to get over the flooding.

Why can’t we work together to truly preserve Sandy Beach and the wooded area most subject to future flooding as a permanent, protected nature park? Come on, Ed – we can work with Nicanco to leave Hudson a legacy to be proud of.

Rodney Birrell

Hudson

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