Valley landowners want to develop farmland
Hope inclusion in New Minas village boundary will help get rezoning approved
The future of several parcels of farmland in the Annapolis Valley is now in the hands of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
The village of New Minas has applied to the board to have 372 hectares of land outside the village boundary included in the village.
The land straddles Highway 101 and includes several parcels owned by a number of people.
The landowners have been trying to have their properties rezoned to residential and commercial land so that they could build a housing development on the south side of Highway 101, which will eventually be served by a new provincial interchange.
The property owners, led by Old Orchard Inn owner Don Wallace, have been unsuccessful so far and figured they would have a better chance of having the rezoning approved if they were part of New Minas and petitioned the village commission have their properties included in the village boundary.
"We received a request from a group of landowners who have been wanting to develop their land now for quite a number of years," Don Chaulk, chairman of the New Minas village commission, said Wednesday.
"They haven't had much success; they thought they might have more success if they became part of the village."
Gerry Cudmore, one of the landowners, said it's the right place for development in the Valley.
"If they are going to start building houses somewhere, the best place to do it is on non-arable land — not on prime agricultural land like in Port Williams and Greenwich," he said.
The proposal is a bitter pill for farmer Peter Elderkin in the nearby village of Greenwich. He says some of the same people who petitioned to have their land rezoned for commercial uses in New Minas objected to Greenwich farmers doing the same.
"What sort of amazes me is, the people who are involved in it: there's seven or eight people who have been adamantly fighting against our rezoning plans here," he said.
Elderkin is one of five farmers waging a controversial battle to get 153 hectares of prime farmland in Greenwich rezoned to permit development for residential, commercial and industrial uses.
The landowners near New Minas have objected to that proposal because they say the land is farmland — rather than non-arable land — but Elderkin says that argument is disingenuous since 47 hectares of the land they want included in New Minas is also zoned farmland.
"I think they're fighting against us for themselves, for their own gain," Elderkin said.
Cudmore said there's no comparison between the land parcels.
"We want to develop on non-arable land and save the good agricultural land for farming," he said.
The Kings County council will decide next week whether to allow farmland to be developed in the Greenwich area. The utility board has not yet said when it will hear the New Minas application.