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Letter to the editor: Dodgy flight plan for Kings County airport business park

RE June 8 article “New Life for Airport Land” - Kings County's CAO has devised a lease-purchase agreement involving six acres of the former Waterville Municipal Airport lands.

The deal was done in advance of any public offering of the lands remaining after the Michelin sale. In supporting the CAO's recommendation, council appears to accept the notion that this first “closeted purchase,” done prior to a subdivision plan, will attract other businesses to locate in our new light industrial/commercial zone.

But businessmen in my district are concerned about this entrance into the land development world by municipal council. Why? Because the goal of managing this valuable ratepayers' asset could go astray in the hands of newly fledged, municipal government “developers.”

Consider what the county doesn't have in its flight plan.

There isn't a subdivision plan outlining the number of acres dedicated to roads or other required open spaces. Therefore the precise number of acres, or the particulars of lots that will be available to sell, remains unknown.

Also unknown are the out-of-pocket costs of extending and/or upgrading the sewer services, of installing street lighting, of ensuring water is available, and building and maintaining roads.

Without these details it is hard to determine if the costs of development and the value of the land will be recovered through sales. Experienced developers know the potential for profit or loss well in advance of determining the price for lots.

There is also the question of real market value. The cost per acre in the lease and purchase agreement being executed by the CAO and warden has not been publicly disclosed. What is known is that Kings County recently paid Atlantic Wholesale $450,000 for the land where its new municipal building is to be built ($75,000 per acre for the six acre site) and serviced lots in the Kentville Business Park are advertised at $35,000 an acre.

It appears the County of Kings has cleared its new business park for take-off without a flight plan being required by council. Which means, we are coming in on “a wing and a prayer.”

Pauline Raven

District 3 councillor, County of Kings

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