• John Jantak

Developer files lawsuit against Saint-Lazare


PHOTO BY LAUREN MITCHELL

The Town of Saint-Lazare finds itself facing a legal challenge from property developer Habitations Robert over a zoning by-law prohibiting development in old-growth forests.

Recent amendments to Saint-Lazare’s zoning By-law 1079 which is meant to protect the town’s forest canopy and humid zones from development have prompted a housing developer to take legal action.

“Because of the various by-laws and regulations we have in the town, it’s going to prevent Habitations Robert from developing his property. That’s the gist of it,” Mayor Robert Grimaudo told The Journal during a telephone interview on July 7.

Unable to develop land

The lawsuit requests the town compensate the developer for being unable to proceed with his plans to develop the land he owns. “Let’s say the developer paid $1,000 for the land and he expected to build houses and make $10,000 after the construction is all over, he basically expects us to pay the full cost of the land after it was all developed because he wasn’t able to make his profit,” said Grimaudo.

As development continues throughout the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, the amount of remaining green space continues to dwindle. For Saint-Lazare, the matter has become a fine balancing act between conservation and development.

Development restricted

“What this by-law does is that it restricts development of our old growth forests. A lot of the land owned by Habitations Robert falls within these parameters. There’s also the fact that we don’t allow any construction in wetlands and that also makes it difficult for development,” said Grimaudo.

“I am not a lawyer but I can tell you that the gist of his complaint is that he would like the town to modify regulations that would then permit him to develop on the land he owns. Let’s not forget that the purpose of these by-laws is to assure the continuity of our forests and wetlands, not just for us but for future generations,” said Grimaudo.

The recent amendments regarding the protection of the town’s remaining forest canopy and humid zones were adopted by council following a public consultation meeting that was held in January when over 60 people attended, most of whom supported the conservation initiative.

Wetlands protection

The town’s new provisions regarding the protection of all remaining humid zones prohibit the excavation, drainage, and extraction of the land and water. Exceptions to these provisions include realizing a municipal project authorized by council for the purpose of ensuring the protection of people and property against fire or because of an authorization from the provincial environment ministry.

The only exception for development in a humid zone is to allow the installation of a footbridge on piles or stilts without backfill for recreational purposes as a place of observation of nature or for private access.

An email requesting an interview with a representative from Habitations Robert was not returned by press time.

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