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Lunenburg municipality calls for coastal development moratorium amid construction concerns

The rock wall built at Little Crescent Beach is pictured. (Heidi Petracek/CTV Atlantic) The rock wall built at Little Crescent Beach is pictured. (Heidi Petracek/CTV Atlantic)
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The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg is asking the Nova Scotia government to put a moratorium on coastal developments as the construction of several beachfront cottages draws criticism from some residents.

Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson says the municipality wants the province to enact a moratorium until staff can develop a municipal coastal protection land use bylaw, and it is approved by council.

“Or until the adoption of the Coastal Protection Act and Regulations by the Province, whichever comes first,” said Bolivar-Getson in a Wednesday news release.

“The use of moratoriums as a tool to limit coastal development while policy is being created is not new to the Maritimes,” she said. “The province of P.E.I. has recently issued a moratorium on coastal development through Ministerial Order, which is intended to be in place until a formal policy can be developed.”

CONSTRUCTION FOLLOWS THE RULES: DEVELOPER

The municipality’s request comes after a well-known Halifax developer, Hossein Mousavi, built a large rock retaining wall along a portion of a small section of Crescent Beach, known by some as “Little Crescent.” It stands in front of the land where he intends to build two cottages.

He got a municipal building permit in March to construct the cottages and got a permit from the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables to allow vehicles to access the beach in order to build the rock wall.

Some residents say the wall encroaches on the beach’s high-water mark, which means it would infringe on Crown land, and are worried it could affect nearby wetlands.

“There’s a lot of people who are very concerned about the ecological impacts,” Lucy Hendrixson said in an interview last week.

A large rock wall has been erected at Little Crescent Beach in Lunenburg County and some residents aren’t happy. (Heidi Petracek/CTV Atlantic)

But in an email statement to CTV News, Mousavi said the wall, which was built to replace existing sea walls that had been badly damaged, follows the rules.

“Our licensed surveyor identified the OHWM [ordinary high-water mark] and proposed siting the new wall on top of the pre-existing walls and, in some cases, set stones back one or two feet above the OHWM,” writes Mousavi in part.

He continues, “We love and want to protect the sensitive wetlands that wind through our properties … we sited our cottages and infrastructure closer to the beach sides of our properties. That’s why our construction plans include a sea wall and measures to avoid disturbing the wetlands entirely.”

He says the wall was part of his submission to the municipality to build two family cottages, one on each of his two shoreline properties.

A portion of the rock wall built at Little Crescent Beach is pictured. (Heidi Petracek/CTV Atlantic)

In addition to the moratorium request, the municipality has passed a motion telling staff to speed up coastal protection land use planning, something it says could fill gaps in current legislation.

“The time is now for both levels of government to take immediate action to fill these gaps. The municipality is moving forward with a plan to resolve the gap in its jurisdiction by expediting municipal planning for shoreline protection,” said Bolivar-Getson.

Council has directed municipality staff to bring a report and recommendation to the next council meeting outlining how the municipality can move forward with coastal protection land use planning including a plan and timeline for the adoption of the coastal protection land use bylaw.

“Council also directed my office to send correspondence to the provincial government requesting that the province approve and adopt the Coastal Protection Act regulations immediately so as to close the provincial gap,” said Bolivar-Getson.

The next council meeting is April 11.

With files from CTV’s Heidi Petracek

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