Dear Mr. Mayor and councillors:
May I start by saying that unknown to me and many other residents of the Gander northeast, we were "absolutely appalled" to recently learn that as of late 2009, a rezoning decision was arbitrarily made by council whereby comprehensive development and residential housing would be permitted in the area situated on north side of Raynham Avenue.
This is a complete flip/flop from the mindset of all previous town councils and committees, who adamantly went out of their way to protect and preclude illegal wood cutting or development that could have caused the destruction or desecration of this valued "old growth forest" area.
As a follow up to the concerns expressed at the open house forum (Feb. 27 at Gander Town Hall), allow me to summarize some of the key points and arguments which were brought forward during this exchange.
As a long time resident of 23 Raynham Avenue (since 1984), I clearly recall the town's original reason and logic for identifying and preserving this ‘green belt area' and subsequent zoning it to Open Space Conservation area (OSC).
Circa 1985, after much public outcry (and a petition) towards indicated interest to develop this area, a proactive policy was adopted by the Town to make off-limits' the described OSC area, with the intent of incorporating it into the town's master plan for eventual expansion.
By zoning the area OSC, it was assumed that the integrity of this area would remain intact and not be desecrated, disturbed, or destroyed.
May I strongly emphasize this action was taken in anticipation of future urbanization of the northeast. It was acknowledged that, at some future time, green space area would become a rare commodity and prove valuable in light of increased residential activity. It was then determined and agreed by all parties that this was the prudent and positive approach to take. As a result, residential development went elsewhere (i.e. to...Spruce Court, Hadfield, Yeager, Forrester etc...).
In light of the old saying: ".... he that does not ‘learn' from history... is bound to repeat it," we, the residents of the northeast, again find ourselves back in this same situation. Another developer is now attempting to encroach on this valuable green-belt area with little or no regard as per the wishes of the local residency. Is this a democracy or what? No doubt, the developers sole intent is to maximize profits by creating as many building lots as is physically possible, and do this in disregard of the wants, needs and the desires and of the existing demographic population, which consists of working families with children, as well as seniors. (sic)
In reviewing your land use zoning map #2 amendment #3, 2012, it is also noted that the location of the proposed road from Rowsell Boulevard to Cooper Boulevard will bisect and vastly reduce the remaining park area with the implementation of this major thoroughfare. This is not acceptable, as it will make Recreation Area #2 dangerous for pedestrians crossing this corridor. Furthermore, both Recreation Areas #1 and #2 are now devoid of any established natural vegetation or trees, and can best be described as an open field. Anyone having the IQ of a miller (moth) would agree this is an abomination of the definition green belt.
Other problems noted are the necessity to relocate hydro lines presently located on the back of Raynham (north side) to incorporate them into the new subdivision. These lines presently intersect some of the present residential properties in the area. The proposed 20 metre buffer zone between the new development and the rear of the properties on Raynham (north side) would be insufficient to properly address this issue.
In summary, I feel that council's proposed revised town plan which has been presented to area residents falls far short of the desires aforementioned by Gander's northeast population.
It is, in my opinion, a sellout of the dreams of young families and seniors who have built homes in the Spruce Court, Hadfield, Forrester, and Raynham areas of town. These homes were built under the pretense that this area was, is, and will continue to be zoned as Conservation and Recreational. It does nothing to enhance the area, and vastly reduces future available options for proactive town planning.
As a longtime resident of Gander, I am not opposed to progress or development. I do in fact believe that the proposed Rowsell Avenue extension road may prove beneficial in alleviating the present traffic congestion on Raynham Avenue. Should the proposed Rowsell Avenue extension go through, it is my suggestion that the area to the north and south remain a commons-green belt area, and not be zoned for comprehensive residential development until such time as progressive and well thought out civic plan can be formulated.
We live in a time where much emphasis is placed upon preservation of the environment and green space areas. Our town should respect and recognize these are the qualities that make living in Gander (up to this point), a positive place to live and raise a family.