Sackville Town Council’s approval of zoning changes to allow an abattoir within a few hundred metres of homes is raising questions about why only one homeowner was notified in writing about the project.
Lori Bickford, planning manager/planner with the Southeast Regional Service Commission says all municipalities in southeastern New Brunswick send written notices to those property owners within 100 metres (328 feet) of a proposed zoning change.
“Of course, there would be nothing to prevent a municipality in the future from going above the hundred metres, but within our southeast region for sure, there is nobody that exceeds the 100 metre notification,” Bickford said during Monday’s town council meeting.
Both the town and the Southeast Regional Service Commission posted notices on their websites, but many residents who live only a few hundred metres away on Crescent and Charles Streets as well as on Beal Heights were apparently unaware that town council was considering such a proposal when it first came up in September.
Former Mayor Pat Estabrooks, who lives on Beal Heights, told Warktimes that about 95% of Sackville residents did not know about the proposed abattoir partly because the town no longer has a weekly paper that prints notices from council.
“We should have received a letter,” Estabrooks said.
100 metres is close
One hundred metres (one-tenth of a kilometre) is equivalent to the distance from Lorne and Bridge Streets to the stop lights at the town’s main intersection or from the new Town Hall to Ben’s Service Station.
It’s not the first time residential property owners have complained of not being notified about projects that could affect them.
In February 2019, Sharon and Dale Ward, who live in British Settlement west of Sackville, were shocked when somebody put survey tape around trees on their lawn.
They had no idea that about a month earlier, on January 23, 2019, Bowser Construction of Sackville had received approval from the Southeast Planning Review and Adjustment Committee to establish a rock quarry only a few hundred metres from their home.
The company planned to use a narrow right-of-way about 35 feet from their house as an access road for big trucks hauling rocks from the quarry in an area where residents have complained for years about blasting at existing quarries damaging their homes and wells.
Ward said that when she telephoned the Regional Service Commission, she was told authorities had no obligation to notify her because her home would be more than 100 metres from the quarry.
“When I asked for information and tried to explain that we were right next to the right-of-way, I was informed that it was none of my concern,” Ward said, adding she was told that if she didn’t agree, she should hire a lawyer and launch a civil suit.
The Wards did start legal action and are now waiting for a court date.
Change to Municipal Plan
Bickford says Sackville Town Council could consider changing the 100-metre notification rule when it reviews its Municipal Plan in the coming year.
“But,” she cautioned, “I would always say that you have to make sure that your process is always consistent.”