BRISTOL – Residents will not have the opportunity to vote in a referendum regarding by-law exemptions for the Pearlcrest property on River Road in Norway Bay. While enough names were collected on petitions to require the municipality to open a register allowing eligible ratepayers to request a referendum, the register only obtained 32 signatures when 40 were required. The register was available at the municipal office October 8 and 9.
The failure of the referendum
register is welcome news for both the municipality of Bristol and the builder involved, as the dispute about the property has dragged on since 2012. Although plans had been
submitted and approved and a
building permit was issued by the municipality in 2011, the permit was suspended in October 2012, because the building was too close to the property line (non-compliance with applicable setbacks). Two years later, in December 2014, a legal agreement was reached between the municipality and the builders where the municipality agreed to pay the builders a sum of money and
determine a way to resolve the problem.
On advice from their lawyer, the municipality paid a consulting firm to write up a by-law “concerning specific construction, alternative or occupancy proposals for an
immovable” (SCAOPI or PPCMOI in French) at a cost of $6,950. While problems with two other houses built in the same development were resolved by passing minor variances, the case of the third property was thought to be too complicated for that approach.
A common planning tool in urban municipalities, a SCAOPI
by-law allows for property specific by-law exemptions; existing by-laws are not affected by this process. Intended as a forward planning tool to allow for more flexibility, the SCAOPI by-law is being used in Bristol’s case to correct past errors.
Many ratepayers are relieved the referendum will not be held due, in part, to the additional costs that such a vote would incur and the potential for further legal costs to resolve the problem. Up until now, according to Bristol mayor Brent Orr, costs have been covered by Errors and Omissions Insurance.