(Above: Part of the land cleared recently at 6279 Fernbank Road, south of Elm Crescent. Photo taken February 14, 2015.)
If I’m going to build a new deck in my backyard, or put up a fence, or cut down a tree right next to my neighbour’s property, I’m going to tell them about it first. We’ll probably have a discussion. My neighbour will want to know why I’m doing the work, and how it’s going to affect them.
Good neighbours communicate.
And when they don’t, you end up with situations like the one we’re seeing on the development property at 6279 Fernbank Road. Neighbouring residents in the Cypress Gardens area are upset because a huge swath of trees is being cleared so that the developer, J.P. Chenier, can conduct environmental testing.
To be clear, the developers (J.P. Chenier, along with Cavanagh Construction who is assisting in the process) appear to have done everything by the book. They’ve submitted engineering plans for the testing and received a tree cutting permit from the City of Ottawa. As required under city rules, they notified residents about the work in advance by dropping a letter in their mailbox.
But while they may be fully compliant with all the regulations, they’ve failed to have a meaningful dialogue with residents to address their concerns.
Residents have contacted the developer several times since receiving the tree cutting notice to ask questions and have asked for a meeting. They want an explanation about what work is involved and why it’s being done. They have safety concerns about the number of trucks coming through the area, the amount of noise the construction work is causing, and potential damage to wildlife habitat.
While they agree that some trees need to be cleared for testing, they believe the area being cleared is far bigger than what’s absolutely necessary.
Even if the work is completely justified, the residents still deserve an explanation. The lack of engagement from the developers is only breeding distrust, stress and anger amongst the neighbours.
“If they would even discuss or advise us of the schedule, it would help,” wrote one neighbour in an email to us earlier this week.
StittsvilleCentral.ca was able to obtain an answer to one of the residents’ questions this week, through a lawyer representing the developer. (Read more here.)
But it shouldn’t take a journalist’s request to get neighbours to talk to one another.
Note: This article was updated to include clarification of Cavanagh’s role in the development.
Residents in the area are planning a meeting on Monday, February 23 to form a community association in advance of the OMB hearing. The meeting is at 7:00pm at Stittsville United Church (corner of Fernbank and Stittsville Main). More info here…
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