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The Guardian
Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Residents’ Group Accuses Stratford of Hidden Agenda on Land Rezoning 


A Stratford residents’ group is accusing the town of a hidden agenda when it comes to rezoning a 6.5-acre parcel of land for a retail development.

The residents’ group, calling itself the Stratford Core Area Ratepayers Committee, presented its case before the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission on Monday in Charlottetown.

At issue is the town’s approval to rezone the parcel of land next to Callbeck’s Home Hardware from planned unit residential development (PURD) to highway commercial zone (C2).

“We’ve been opted out of this whole process,” said Bob Sherren, a member of the residents’ group.

“If we appear to be ignorant of some of these issues it’s because we’ve been kept in the dark.  This has been an egregious abuse of power by the town.”

Sherren asked the commission to protect the residents.

The APM Group applied for the rezoning so it could develop the land for retail space, widely believed to be an Atlantic Superstore.  APM was not present at Monday’s hearing.

Sherren said neither the town nor the developer volunteered specifics about plans neither for the land nor about the rezoning process and it wasn’t until they filed an appeal that residents finally got some answers.

Sherren said APM has been unresponsive to the concerns from the residents.

He said some of the issues, which concern residents in the immediate area of the rezoned properties, are deflated property values, the impact of an increase in traffic and the lack of any market analysis to gauge whether Stratford needs another large grocery store.

“These questions have never been answered by the planning board or council,” Sherren said.

There are also concerns surrounding proposed intersection improvements along the Trans-Canada Highway in Stratford.  A four-way lighted intersection is planned for Dale Drive and the Trans-Canada Highway, just east of Home Hardware.  The Mason Road would become a right in and right-out only as would the Stratford Road.

Sherren said residents have lost trust in council and it has led to a “mutual dislike” between residents on the committee and councilors.

Sherren accused the town of catering to APM merely to widen its tax base with another development, at the expensive of residents.  He said residents even had to find out about the rezoning and planned APM development from a third party.

Charlottetown lawyer John Mitchell represented the town at Monday’s hearing.  He denied any wrongdoing.

The hearing resumes this morning at 9:30.

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