BY KIRK STARRATT The Kings County Advertiser NovaNewsNow.com
Doug Hennigar is one of four farm businessmen who applied to the County of Kings for planning strategy amendments to establish a Commercial Development District in Greenwich. Hennigar says he hopes an outside consultant will bring an objective perspective to the matter. Advertiser file photo
Four farm businessmen in Greenwich have applied to the County for planning strategy amendments to establish a Commercial Development District. One says the issue is all about being business people in a business district. “It’s not an agricultural issue as much as it’s a business issue,” Doug Hennigar said.
Hennigar said he is not getting the same municipal services as his competitors. He still does not have sewer or water service for his Greenwich farm market and he said he does not have the flexibility he needs to plan for the years ahead. “Council should have a balanced approach,” he said in regard to development and farmland preservation. “We need development to keep our young people here.”
Hennigar pointed out the Municipal Planning Strategy established in 1979 identifies the area along Highway 1 in Greenwich as a location to be serviced and developed in the future. Hennigar suggests that a simple approach for council to handle future development applications involving farmland would be to use the Cornwallis River as the dividing line. Development could be allowed south of the river and disallowed to the north.
There are currently three different zones for the five farm markets in Greenwich, he said, this equates to trade barriers in his mind. If his land were not zoned agricultural, he could use it to leverage capital to re-invest in the evolution of his business and he would not necessarily have to consider developing it in the traditional sense. “Where are we going to allow development in the next 30 or 40 years?” Hennigar asked.
Henniger said he believes the county needs leadership from council. He said one councillor who recently demonstrated against his colleagues in the name of preserving agricultural land is being hypocritical, after voting in favour of big-box retail development on the Millett farmland in New Minas, which Hennigar described as a prime piece of agricultural land.
He said he feels that he is on an emotional roller coaster ride, having spent five years trying to get the Greenwich application dealt. Many people’s interpretation of development is way off the mark, he said. “We have demonstrated how agri-tourism can work,” he said, pointing out that about 90 per cent of the money that comes through his farm market stays in the county. “It’s sort of a slap in the face when you’re told you can’t do any more.”
Hennigar said the group is on their fourth planner since they made their original application to the county, the fifth counting consultants council hired in 2006, for $25,000, to study planning considerations in the community. However, he believes it will be more efficient and cost effective to have an outside planner handle their application and that this will help ensure an objective point of view.
It is unacceptable to take this long to deal with the application, Hennigar said, and he could not believe it when the municipality told the applicants that their original application had been lost. The applicants have been asked to sign off on a new application.
They had applied originally to have their land rezoned to C10 (Commercial) and R7 (Residential) and to have the hamlet boundary extended to include their properties to help facilitate municipal sewer and water service extensions. Kings County council voted in favour a hiring an outside planning consultant to draft the amendments for the applicants at the September committee of the whole session. “If you can find a project anyone is for, give me a call sometime,” Hennigar said.