If 'green' subdivision fails, brace for office buildings, developer says
A developer who has been trying to pitch a sustainable development to the community of Chelsea, Que., says he'll fight to build a more conventional development with office towers if residents continue to oppose his "green" plan.
Mark Shank, who heads the development company InHarmony, said the referendum expected this fall on his proposed Chelsea Creek development is the last time he'll try to pitch his plan for a green subdivision of energy-efficient homes.
If that fails, he'll go to court to get the right to build a conventional development, including four-storey office buildings, he said, calling that proposal "Plan B."
Shank said that isn't what he wants to do, but unreasonable opposition has left the company with no choice.
Longtime Chelsea resident Marsha Bryant said Shank's warning has a hint of blackmail.
"Hopefully, it will backfire. I mean, we shouldn't be bullied," she said. "You can't build and do things here that are not already in the bylaws without municipal approval and that's all there is to it."
Bryant said she opposes the development because she thinks it would change the community's character.
"It will be a busy suburb of Ottawa rather than the quaint little rural place that it is now."
Chelsea officials said they aren't giving interviews because they don't want to influence the referendum vote. However, they confirmed that current zoning would not permit Shank to develop a former farm in Chelsea for both residential and commercial purposes without permission, as he has claimed.
Despite the vocal opposition to the Chelsea Creek development, at least one local resident, Bruce Langer, said he sympathizes with the development company.
"If I spent a million dollars on a project that was going nowhere because a group of neighbours don't want it in my backyard, then I'd feel pretty bad about that," said Langer, who moved his candle business to Chelsea five years ago and said he'd like to see more development in the area.
The Chelsea Creek Development was to be located at the southeast corner of Highway 5 and Old Chelsea Road and include a mixture of single-family homes, two-storey condominiums and seniors housing, as well as a commercial centre and parks and community spaces.