Waterfront development freeze in Port Dover

PORT DOVER – Major new developments on waterfront property in Port Dover are on hold now that Norfolk County has imposed a moratorium.The interim-control bylaw was adopted during a special meeting of Norfolk council Tuesday. The moratorium is good for one year with the option of a one-year extension.Council made the move because of mounting development pressures on the waterfront. These pressures are occurring in the absence of a secondary plan that builds on Port Dover’s strengths while preserving the town’s nautical character.In a presentation to Norfolk council Sept. 3, Mayor Kristal Chopp said strategic planning for urban waterfronts is standard across Ontario. She said the absence of a plan in Port Dover puts the town at risk of developments that residents and the county will regret.Port Dover Coun. Amy Martin says the waterfront moratorium comes at an opportune time.Due to rapid residential development in recent years, Port Dover is perilously close to a servicing shortfall in the area of treated water. This summer, council imposed a moratorium on major new developments in Port Dover requiring significant water allocation.“We are taking advantage of an unfortunate situation that council inherited,” Martin said. “Due to the fact that there is no new development anyway, we are looking to develop a cohesive plan, for the first time, for development in Port Dover.“We especially look forward to drilling down on waterfront development.”The interim-control bylaw also freezes current land usage in place until the bylaw expires.The bylaw says “no person shall use any land, building or structure for any purpose whatsoever except for a use that lawfully existed on the date of passage of this bylaw as long as it continues to be used for such purpose.”As well, building alterations in the control zone are forbidden if they require new water allocation.Decks, pools, patios, fences, porches, accessory buildings, temporary buildings and interior renovations to existing buildings are permitted so long as property owners have a building permit.In Schedule B of the bylaw, council specifically exempts Port Dover Development Inc., Pretty Smart Holdings, R. Lawrence and any new development applications that do not require water service.In her presentation to Norfolk council Sept. 3, Chopp said Port Dover is at a crossroads.If the county doesn’t think this through, the mayor said Port Dover could wind up with waterfront areas choked with condominium towers that cut the community off from Silver Lake, the Lynn River, Black Creek, the harbour and Long Point Bay.At the same meeting, Charlotteville Coun. Chris Van Paassen pointed out that the former City of Nanticoke was in the process of developing a waterfront secondary plan for Port Dover in 1999 when the restructuring of Haldimand-Norfolk Region into two standalone municipalities pre-empted the exercise. The new Norfolk County did not pick up the thread until now.The interim-control bylaw was meant to capture the 90-unit Misner Landing condominium project proposed for the former Misner Fertilizer property beside Silver Lake.However, Norfolk council did not transact that application within the 150-day time-frame prescribed by law. As a result, project proponents last week exercised their right to refer their application to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, effectively bypassing the public approval process at Norfolk council as well as the interim-control bylaw itself.MSonnenberg@postmedia.com