Hold those paving trucks, additional asphalt plants on Sherwood Road in Charlottetown may not be a done deal yet.
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown agreed Wednesday night to ask council to reconsider its decision that would allow for more asphalt, aggregate and concrete plants on Sherwood Road.
Residents and business people in the Sherwood Road area hosted a packed public meeting at the West Royalty Community Centre and resident after resident pleaded with the mayor to reverse the decision.
On June 21, council voted 5-4 at a special meeting in favour of an amendment to the zoning and development bylaw to permit an asphalt, aggregate and concrete plant in the M2 zone. There are two of those zones, one on Sherwood Road and the other in the West Royalty Industrial Park.
The residents, who have hired legal counsel, have formally appealed the decision to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) but Jamie Brown, owner of Brown’s Volkswagen, told residents at Wednesday’s public meeting that the appeal was put on hold because the group has also formally asked city council for a reconsideration.
A reconsideration must be heard within 21 days of the decision so that gives the group and city council until Friday to handle it. Of course, the biggest obstacle here is will the residents be able to convince at least one councillor to change his or her vote to at least force a 5-5 tie. A tie vote would mean the mayor would have to make the final decision and while he isn't saying how he would vote he is saying he would vote "in favour of the environment''.
Coun. Jason Coady, who represents the affected area, said he was jumping on this right away and planned to move a motion to have council meet and reconsider its decision. He needs someone to second the motion but two of the councillors who voted against the amendment, Mitchell Tweel and Bob Doiron, were at Wednesday’s meeting and seemed pretty open to doing just that.
A number of residents stepped to the microphone at the meeting and demanded that council hold a public meeting on the issue. They say a public meeting held earlier this year was so poorly attended because it was poorly advertised. They want another one.
The mayor said he would talk to the city solicitor to see if another public meeting could be held but that would be moot if a vote is held by Friday and it goes in the residents’ favour. It would quash the amendment and stop an asphalt plant from being built.
Brown tried to tell the residents that the province could step in and do something but Liberal Leader Robert Mitchell and Opposition Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, who were both at the meeting and spoke, threw it right back at the city and told Brown to fix it.
Coady said there is no reason for a second asphalt plant in the city. He pointed out that Chapman Brothers and Island Construction both bid on the city’s asphalt contract and the difference in the bids was no more than $40,000 so putting a second plant in the city won’t create a more competitive process.
Paul Haddad, one of the residents who spoke at the meeting, said he drives a motorcycle and says driving on Sherwood Road now is dangerous enough with rocks left on the road from the existing asphalt plant.
Susie Dillon pointed out that the city went through this whole process a year ago when Chapman Brothers applied to build a plant on Sherwood Road yet pulled their application after mounting opposition from residents and businesses following a public meeting.
“Residents don’t understand what changed in one year,’’ Dillon said. “The bottom line is we don’t want it.’’
The meeting got quite fiery at times, especially when people pointed out that the five councillors who voted in favour of the amendment didn’t show up at the meeting.
“This is all about corporate greed and we’re not going to stand for it,’’ one man yelled loudly.
“We were blindsided,’’ said resident George Crawford. “Mayor Brown, what part of no do you not understand? You simply passed the buck onto the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.’’
John Abbott, who sits on the Sherwood Cemetery board of directors, said there are 5,000 people interred in the cemetery that corners Sherwood Road and Brackley Point Road.
“The families (visiting loved ones) don’t need any more grief than they already have,’’ Abbott said. “They don’t need the dust and noise. It’s supposed to be a place of peace and tranquility.’’
Coady said companies don’t have to be located in the city to do asphalt work in the city, pointing out that Chapman Brothers used up portable plants to do work on the Charlottetown Airport runway and the arterial highway.
“We were elected by the people, we represent the people and for some reason we didn’t listen to the people,’’ Coady sighed.