• James Armstrong

Domaine du Fief housing development dominates Saint-Lazare council meeting


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Saint-Lazare residents addressed council members with their concerns regarding a housing development in a zone that’s both equestrian and agricultural.

Residents from the Domaine du Fief area were on-hand to express their concerns regarding a proposed housing development during the Saint-Lazare town council meeting held Tuesday, August 14.

“Why did council choose to pass a by-law last summer permitting the opening of roads for that project?” asked resident Corry Terfloth.

“The file was presented to council as having acquired rights and council made a decision,” responded Mayor Robert Grimaudo. Terfloth, along with other residents, is concerned that the proposed lot sizes are too small for an area zoned as equestrian/agricultural.

“Whom do you go to on equestrian matters? Do you hire an expert?” asked Terfloth. She pointed out that horses are farm animals, not pets, and require paddocks for exercise. “I think the council is not exercising the power it has. You have the power to make change,” she added.

Acquired rights for the development

The development was approved in 1998 with lot sizes that met the criteria of the time. “The town has received legal advice that there are acquired rights that need to be respected,” said the mayor during the discussion.

“This is an ongoing file,” he told The Journal on Wednesday, August 15 adding, “The town has not received any applications for permits from the developer, to date.” He also noted that the developer had not yet received approval in the form of an environmental assessment from the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC).

Lot size considerations

“In the end, our hope is that council will increase the lot sizes to allow for the use as mandated by the schema: construction of a residence, equestrian construction built with humane conditions for horses, including paddock space, and the preservation of the green space, one of the last contiguous forest corridors in Saint-Lazare,” Terfloth told The Journal in an e-mail.

During the discussion of the issues surrounding the proposed development, councillors said they had reservations and concerns regarding the project as well.

Tree cutting on ski trails

Resident David Hill raised the issue of the town cutting trees along the cross-country ski trails.

“The trees will be cut to widen the ski trails,” responded Grimaudo adding, “The machine that is used to groom the trails no longer fits the trails.” He described the problem as the forested areas encroaching on the trails.

“The reality is that we should have done it a little bit at a time over the past 20 years.” He estimated that 157 trees have been marked for cutting. “We will look at the situation more closely,” he said promising the administration and council would walk the trails again to review the situation. He said replacement trees would be planted further from the trails.

Chaline Valley stabilization project

Chaline Valley resident Richard Meades addressed council saying Hydro Quebec had started moving the poles carrying the service cables for Hydro, Bell Canada and Videotron from the rear of the area’s residences to the front of them. The work is part of the large-scale project organized by the town to stabilize points of land in the valley that are at risk of landslide.

Meades encouraged the town to create better and deeper ditches so that property owners would be able to use them as an emptying point for drainage on their land.

“I think you are aware that the town is addressing the issue of ditches,” responded the mayor pointing out that Saint-Lazare is built on water and the ditches were designed to hold not move water.

Meades suggested ditches could be used in Chaline Valley area to move water away from the houses into the ravine. The mayor replied the suggestion would be taken into consideration.

Reducing train whistle blowing

A long-standing project to build a security fence along the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) line that crosses Duhamel Street and Sainte-Angélique Road has received the support of federal Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Peter Schiefke. The railway corridor in question situated at the east end of Saint-Lazare involves two level crossings in a populated area with a high volume of rail traffic. Council had approved a resolution at the July meeting to send a letter to Schiefke requesting his help with the file.

PHOTO COURTESY GOOGLE MAPS

A bird's-eye view showing the two level railroad crossings on Duhamel and Sainte-Angélique and the area for the proposed fence project.

“We had a meeting with the mayor and town councillors several weeks ago and the topic of this project came up,” Schiefke told The Journal.

“What I’m pledging is to work with Transport Canada and CP Rail to move this file forward,” he said. “The reality is that this affects the lives of hundreds of people living in Saint-Lazare.”

The project has stalled because there are properties bordering the rail line on Duhamel Street that have encroached on CP Rail property with backyard installations. “It’s up to CP to deal with the landowners,” said Schiefke who said he has had success in resolving railway issues in other communities.

Fencing the railroad

“That’s why we asked for his help,” said Grimaudo. “We know he has a good track record and that he cares about his constituents.” The town has been working on the project since 2012.

“It’s approximately 100 metres of fence,” said the mayor adding the cost of installing the barrier has been included in the municipal budget for several years. The plan is to install the fence parallel to the railroad behind the houses on Duhamel Street to prevent people from crossing the track.

“We hope this will reduce the amount of whistle blowing that happens when trains are passing through,” said Grimaudo.

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