Walker Road resident Peter Smith says he’s decided to sell his house and land and move out of Sackville after town council cleared the way for a nearby plastic drainage pipe factory without notifying property owners in the area.
“We’re selling everything that we own in Sackville and moving out,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
His decision to leave comes after a series of changes the town made without consulting or notifying residents in the area. Those changes began 14 years ago.
“We had no knowledge of the re-zoning until after it happened,” Smith said, referring to the town’s original decision in 2008 to re-zone 177 acres near the Walker Road exit on the TransCanada Highway.
“At the time when I was informed that it was re-zoned to industrial, even Walter my neighbour behind me said, ‘Well, they can’t build anything industrial here, there’s no services, there’s no water or sewer here’ and that left me with a sense of security that it would be a long time or we would hear a lot more, before any development happened,” he said.
However, on April 11, town council gave final approval to a bylaw change that would permit development in the Walker Road industrial zone without water and sewer services.
Soon after, Smith and his neighbours noticed heavy equipment felling trees at 318 Walker Road.
Atlantic Industries Limited (AIL) had been granted a development permit to prepare the site for a factory to manufacture and store high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe there.
“With the application for putting an industrial plant at the site at 318 Walker Road, we had no knowledge of that whatsoever and we didn’t know that they had also amended the bylaw so that they could build without town water and sewer,” Smith says.
Town council began discussing the bylaw change on February 14th and scheduled a public hearing for March 14th.
A public notice posted on the town’s website read:
The proposed amendment to the Zoning By-law is intended to remove the requirement that all Industrial development must be serviced by Municipal services and include provisions to permit development on Industrial zoned land that is unserviced.
There was no mention in the public notice that the bylaw change would clear the way for a plastic pipe factory on Walker Road and as a result, no one showed up for the public hearing.
“If I had known about the plans for a factory, I would have been at that meeting and I would have spoken against it,” Smith says.
“If I had an opportunity to stop it, I certainly would,” he adds.
“If we had an opportunity to speak to this, then I’m sure we would have hopefully convinced the councillors of our concern and that would have perhaps changed their position.”
Smith did show up to address council at their meeting on June 7th where he and other residents expressed concerns about the potential for contamination of their wells and surface water in the area.
Smith’s horses drink from a stream that runs through a section of his property and that eventually flows into Silver Lake.
He also told council that his property values could drop by at least $100,000. (He owns another 82 acres near Carriage Court as well as a four-acre lot on Silver Lake and a one-acre lot on Fairfield Road.)
Since he moved to Sackville in 2005, Smith has been active in a variety of local activities such as chairing the Board of Elders at Middle Sackville Baptist Church; launching the Tantramar Immigration Support Team to help Ukrainian immigrants; serving on the Executive Board of the Sackville Swim Club and helping to organize the annual Sackville Triathlon and Duathlon events.
“It’s a very friendly, very safe town and that’s why we wanted to settle here,” he told town council in June.
“It’s the best town I’ve ever experienced for raising a family,” he said. “I love this town.”
But on Wednesday, he said that although he hates to do it, it’s time to sell all of his properties and leave.
“We’ve decided to move and we’re in the process of negotiating on a piece of land to start over again,” he said.