Hudson proposes prohibiting construction in 100-year flood zone


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Hudson’s new Mayor Jamie Nicholls and council take action to prevent future building construction in the town’s flood zones following this year’s devastating spring flooding from the Ottawa River.

Hudson Town Council approved a notice of motion of a by-law amending the sections of zoning By-law 526 pertaining to construction in the flood zone bordering the Ottawa River during the regular monthly meeting held Monday, December 4.

“The amendment is intended to limit main building construction in the 20 to 100 year flood zone as established by the municipal and ministerial authorities,” said Mayor Jamie Nicholls. “Any main building construction is forbidden in the aforementioned zone.”

The amendment also safeguards acquired rights of existing buildings in the zone and accessory buildings may be exempted under certain conditions. The new by-law implements an immediate freeze on any new construction in the 20-100 year flood zone.

Cause for concern

“My concern is about renovating or adding onto an existing house,” said resident June Penney. “The 20-year flood zone is at the back of my deck and the 100-year flood zone is at my garage door.” She gave the addition of a second storey to a bungalow as an example.

“That would be within the spirit of the by-law because you do have an acquired right,” said Nicholls. Director General Jean-Pierre Roy added that proposed renovation plans should be presented to the Urban Planning Department. According to the mayor, the amending by-law is not subject to a referendum process.

Impact on Pine Beach Project

Resident Daniel Gautier asked if the amendment puts the Pine Beach development Project on ice.

“Parts of that project will be touched by this amendment,” said Nicholls, adding that other parts of the town will also be affected. He said maps indicating the 0 to 20 year flood zone in yellow and the 20 to 100 year zone in pink were available at Hudson’s Town Hall.

Following the meeting, Nicholls pointed out the area of the Pine Beach Project to Your Local Journal on one of the maps. Although much of the proposed construction appeared to be in the pink zone, there is space available to build. The mayor said there is a constructible zone bordering Royalview Road. Nicholls said, to date, the developer had not presented any building construction plans to the town for approval and permits.

Developer’s reaction

“It’s very complicated. I thought everything was going in the right direction,” said Hans-Karl Muhlegg reached the day after the meeting. Muhlegg, the owner of Nicanco Holdings Inc., the company responsible for the Pine Beach development project, wasn’t present for the council meeting and hadn’t heard about the zoning by-law amendment. “It’s an insult. We got the go-ahead in 2004 and we gave the Town of Hudson a lot of things,” said Muhlegg. Most recently, the town signed an infrastructure agreement with Nicanco where the developer is responsible for the installation of infrastructure and then hands it over to the town upon completion.

Water treatment plant

Council approved a resolution to apply for funding to move forward with a shared feasibility study with neighbouring communities for a publicly funded potable water treatment plant that would draw water from the Ottawa River. The money comes from a new financial assistance program for shared infrastructure projects provided by the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Occupation du territoire (MAMOT). Up to 50 per cent of the eligible costs of the study will be covered by the grant.

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade funding

Resident Gary McKeown raised concerns about funding from the town for the 2018 Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. “We need to look at what has happened in the past with the parade,” Nicholls replied. “We are looking at the expenses of the town.”

He said council wants to avoid a property tax increase and wants to treat all municipally-funded organizations in the town equitably. McKeown pointed out the parade is a town event organized by an extensive group of volunteers.

“Each year it’s the same situation,” said Parade Committee Chairperson Jim Beauchamp in an interview Tuesday, December 5. “It’s not a one-day event and we began planning this in September,” said Beauchamp describing how commitments have to be made for various events that happen in February 2018 leading up to the parade in March. According to Beauchamp and McKeown, the committee is preparing a presentation regarding the economic and promotional benefits of the parade that will be sent to the mayor, councillors and town administration.

Creation of a culture management non-profit organization

Council passed a resolution approving the creation of a non-profit organization to promote the interests of citizens for arts and culture and their broadcast. The organization will report directly to the town administration. Hudson Village Theatre Executive Director Kalina Skulska asked for clarification about the structure of the organization.

“My intention is to have all the heads of the organizations on the board of directors,” said Nicholls. “This is the infancy stage and we want to have the full involvement of all the cultural organizations.” Nicholls said he was looking at a five-year time frame at the end of which the organization would become autonomous.

Potable water leak

Resident Frank Hicks questioned council about a recent leak on properties on Lower Maple Street. Hicks said the situation continued for about a month because of a misunderstanding of who was responsible for finding the source of the flood; the town or the property owners.

“A few days ago I passed by and a town work crew was there digging,” said Hicks. “When I asked what it was, they said it was a broken water main. So, for a month, the town has been haemorrhaging drinking water,” he added.

YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Puddles of water that accumulated in front of a house on Lower Maple led residents to question their source, particularly in light of Hudson’s water shortages.

“We did our due diligence,” said Nicholls noting he had alerted the Public Works Department when Hicks told him about the situation. District 5 Councillor Jim Duff said it took time to determine if it was ground water from a drainage pipe or potable water from the town system. “As for the amount of water being lost from the system, that’s another question,” said Duff. “When we get the answer to that, we may be able to save the cost of another well.”

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