By Jennifer Hoegg
New Minas will have room to grow.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board announced its decision on Feb. 4 to approve the village’s application to expand approximately 980 acres south of Highway 101, into the area known as Canaan Ridge.
New Minas made the application in January 2011 with the support of 17 property owners, including the Millett New Minas Recreational Trust and Emscote Limited - who were also granted formal standing in the June 2012 hearings.
“It has been awhile coming, but we’re pretty ecstatic,” said Terry Silver, clerk and treasurer for the village.
Kings County opposed the application, arguing that any move should wait until after the ongoing Kings 2050 regional planning effort is complete.
“I respect the decision,” county Warden Diana Brothers said. “(The board) recognizes the value and principles of the Kings 2050 plan, but didn’t see it as a ruling factor in their case.”
The two-year dispute will not harm the relationship between Kings County and the village, Brothers added.
“People have a difference of opinion and they have an opportunity to express that and there is a process to go forward,” the warden said. “We will continue to work hard with the Village of New Minas to go forward.”
In its decision, the board wrote it was “satisfied granting the application to extend the village boundary will not cause any negative impact on the municipality.”
An argument from the county that the expansion would “’force the hand’ of municipal council to approve development applications for the area” was rejected by the UARB, as planning decisions remain the county’s jurisdiction, the decision stated.
In its decision, the board found the expansion would allow the 17 landowners involved to have a stronger voice in planning decisions, as well as on fire, water and sewer services. Approval would also allow for cost savings in extending water and sewer lines in co-ordination with the future construction of the Granite Drive interchange.
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Don Wallace, who represented the property owners in the application, said the decision “is wonderful.
“All of the property owners have been waiting over 20 years to get access to their property and at long last the UARB has agreed it’s the right thing to do,” Wallace said, referring to a 1991 application to expand the village.
He has no immediate plans for his 200 to 300 acres in the area, but said he thought several property owners would begin to plan for development once the interchange goes ahead.
“This is a positive move forward and we have a new council of positive thinking people who will help Kings County expand and grow,” Wallace said.
Pauline Raven, who also spoke as a landowner during the June hearings as Pauline Cudmore, said she was not prepared to comment due to a conflict of interest. Raven was elected to county council in October.
The review board also found there would be no financial issue for the county and village and no significant tax increase for ratepayers. No public comments against the application were received during the public hearing process.
As for what’s next, Silver said small assessment changes will be made, but most of the land is currently zoned forestry, which has a very low tax rate.
“It’s business as usual, we just have a bigger boundary,” she said.
A date and firm boundaries are not yet set, pending discussion with the village and county, but the board has suggested April 1 as the effective date.
New Minas may also apply for costs before Feb. 18
Silver said the village commission has yet to discuss either question and does not have a total figure of the village’s cost.
The next village commission meeting is Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.