One thing remains perfectly clear — the residents of the Georgetown Road area who are opposed to Conway’s Towing moving into their neighbourhood are completely and irrevocably against the idea.
What wasn’t entirely clear, at least in the beginning, was what they were currently arguing against during Wednesday night’s public hearing at City Hall regarding the changing of the land use designation from residential to light industrial and the zoning from residential medium density to light industrial.
Corner Brook resident Bruce Ryan, who owns Bud’s Auto Body in the area, at 678 O’Connell Drive, purchased Conway’s Towing last fall and is looking to relocate that business to the area behind the auto body shop and incorporate a spray-liner businesses as well.
Over 200 residents of the area have signed a petition and have presented it to the City of Corner Brook, signaling their objection to this plan.
However, Wednesday night’s meeting, attended by 26 area residents and moderated by City planning technician Darren Randell, pertained specifically to Ryan’s request to change the land use designation and zoning of an approximately 15-metre portion of land that currently has the residential land use designation and zoning to light industrial.
The majority of the land Ryan owns behind the auto body shop is already classified as light industrial and technically he can do what he wants with that space as long as it falls under the city’s regulations of the light industrial designation.
According to hearing commissioner Trina Simms, the purpose here was to give residents one last opportunity to voice their concerns about the rezoning of that 15-metre area specifically and submit a final report to city council.
This meant that any general complaints or concerns about what may possibly happen during the following phases of the proposed project weren’t yet relevant to Wednesday night’s discussion, which led to a little frustration from some in attendance.
Resident Ross Edison presented a detailed statement on behalf of those in attendance, once again outlining the complaints of he and his neighbours about the proposed project as a whole and questioning whether certain policies and practices were followed correctly in allowing it to move forward.
Those same issues previously brought up at another meeting in the spring — potential reduction of property values, safety concerns, environmental concerns, and possible noise pollution, among others — were emphatically raised once more.
He again suggested the business moving to either the Lundrigan Drive or Watsons Pond industrial parks instead.
“Not my neighbourhood,” he said.
One specific complaint brought forth by Ken Abbott, who owns the property the land in question would be bordering, did have an issue with potential flooding on his — and neighbouring — properties if that 15.2-metre land was developed. Currently, he said, there can be major water issues in the area already and the water pools back in that area to form a pond, which gives it a few days to run off gradually. He said he stands to lose a lot in damages if that reserve is gone.
“All that water is going to rush on through,” he said.
In arguing the potential development in its entirety, several residents who attended Wednesday’s night’s public hearing questioned whether a commercial towing operation, that deals with various large vehicles, would even fall under the general garage classification that is permitted under light industrial regulations.
“He’s in a light industrial zone — you’re talking about big transport trailers, that’s not light,” said area resident Glen Power, who said he’s seen businesses in other communities that have gone into commercialized towing have to relocate out of light industrial zones.
“The tow truck there is approximately 40 feet long. There’s nothing light about that.”
Once Simms’ report on the rezoning of the 15 metres of land from residential to light industrial is complete, it will go before council again, which will vote upon sending it to municipal affairs. After that review, Randell will write up another report and submit it to council for a final vote.
He estimated the process would take another 4-5 weeks before it wound up back in council chambers.