• Nick Zacharias

Large Hudson subdivision pushing forward


PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

Building permits have not yet been issued, but leafy Léger Lane in Hudson is slated to look much different if current plans for development, that residents say would mean clearing forested wetland to make room for new houses, are approved by town council.

A letter to the editor in last week’s The Journal expressed concern that construction on the new ‘Willowbrook’ subdivision at the corner of Main Road and Léger Lane in Hudson was imminent, and that the town was pushing forward without making public the environmental assessment of the site included in the $80,000 Eco2Urb report. Area resident JJ Corker had a conversation with Iain Dalgarno (Director of Infrastructure, Work Planning and Municipal Water Treatment Services for the town of Hudson) who confirmed that the timeline in the letter was in error, but residents are still concerned about the situation as council may be voting on it as early as August.

Environmental recommendations not released

“The town has committed to not allowing construction or backfilling on a wetland,” said Corker, “but we still haven’t seen what’s in the Eco2Urb report. Right now, the proposed ‘Willowbrook’ plan shows lots going in all along Léger Lane, in places where it’s a forested wetland.” In fact, there’s a proposed road intersecting with Léger that appears to run right through a vernal pond - a body of water that appears in a lowland with the spring thaw and dries up later in summer. Explained Corker, “Not only is it a terrible idea to build there because it’s wet, but it’s also a critically important place for breeding for a lot of species in the spring.”

Corker isn’t convinced of the town’s commitment to protecting the environment. “Even if the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) calls this area an ‘Exceptional Forest Ecosystem’ because of the rare Butternut trees or rare flowering plant species, it’s still down to the town to push back and negotiate with the developer to change the plans to protect sensitive areas.” Corker says he hasn’t seen much change to the original plan (except the inclusion of a small park) and he’s concerned that the environmental assessments won’t be properly considered.

Landscape change

If the development goes in as planned, it appears the forest along the lane would be completely cleared. Lots are shown to be uniformly 20 metres wide. “They said in their original meetings they wanted a 10-metre buffer zone of woodland all along Léger, but on the plan today there are lots fronting on Léger almost the whole way down. With lots that are 20 by 30 metres, once you put houses in the middle you’ve got a couple of metres left between each house. That really doesn’t leave any room for trees,” said Corker.

Phased tactic

Hudson Mayor Jamie Nicholls could not be reached for comment, but Habitations Robert, the developer for the proposed site, is showing a map on their website as “available soon” that includes 30 of an eventual 114 houses. Corker and many of his neighbours are concerned that this is one of the biggest single developments in the history of Hudson, and pushing through the first phase will affect the wetland in the rest of the area, so when the time comes for approval of the second phase, even more substantial wetlands there may already have been diminished. They want to see the Eco2Urb report made public, and to have protections put in place based on the whole area, not just the phase one section, before ground is broken.

IMAGE COURTESY HABITATIONS ROBERT

“It feels like the town’s just checking boxes and filing reports, but they don’t want to push the developer, who gets to do whatever they want,” said Corker. He went on to say that while everyone is aware of the wetlands, there is room to develop responsibly around them, it’s just a question of making the effort to see it happen.

“It could be a beautiful development – there’s no problem with having some houses there – but it looks like they aren’t concerned with anything other than making money by packing in as many houses as possible.”

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