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Portion of controversial rock wall removed at N.S. beach development

New Cumberland, N.S., resident Karen Reinhardt has been busy trying to get as much information as she can about the private development at Little Crescent Beach.

The worksite was quiet Monday, but for Reinhadt, the debate isn’t over.

“Nobody ever dreamed that something like this would happen here,” she says.

She and other residents have banded together to oppose the construction of several cottages here – along with the imposing rock wall that comes with it. 

The province’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables confirms six metres of the wall was recently removed by developer Hussein Mousavi, after a land survey determined it encroached on the adjacent Crown land.

But Reinhardt says the damage to the sand dune was already done.

“It needs to be remediated,” she says, “It says in the Act that it can be remediated and should be remediated.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Climate Change has also confirmed Mousavi was directed to fix infilling of the saltwater marsh that occurring in the spring.

“The property owner pulled material away from the wetland that was part of the road, based on assessment and recommendation of the wetland specialist that was hired by the property owner. ECC also had our wetland specialist do a report on this area; our report will be finalized soon,” writes Department spokesperson Mikaela Etchegary in an email.

While Reinhardt may take some comfort in that, she says her main concern is over the very basis of the project - a measurement known as the ordinary high water mark, which is essentially a calculated average of high tide.

The developer’s permit for the installation of a septic system at the site relies on that measurement.

Reinhardt says documents she’s received through a Freedom of Information request suggest a discrepancy in the figure used.

“When the plan was submitted to Environment for septic permits, a different high water mark was indicated on the plan” she asserts, “anywhere up to 25 feet away from that wall toward the ocean.”

She says by Mousavi’s mark, his development is back far enough.

But she believes the province's measurements would mean the whole thing is just too close.

Reinhardt is waiting for the results of another Freedom of Information request - asking for the province's most recent survey of the land.

“We want it because we know it corroborates the earlier surveys and we know it does not corroborate what he considers his high water mark,” she says.

Etchegary’s email response confirms the discrepancy. “For the septic systems, we are waiting for the report from the property owner’s Professional Engineer as it relates to the discrepancy of the high water mark,” she writes, “We have directed the property owner that he is not to install these systems until we have clarity.”

However, in the same response, Etchegary indicates the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables learned a licensed Nova Scotia Land Surveyor had already recently surveyed the property when it initiated its own survey work.

That survey, she indicates, showed “the wall is above the ordinary high water mark.”

But on the other side of the wall, other residents have additional concerns.

Craig Hubley lives at the very end of the beach. For him, a problem lies in the cleared land right next to the construction site.

“What I want is to see trees to come back, essentially everywhere we’re looking,” he says, gesturing towards an gravel road behind the wall, “and for the access road to go further north, where it was always intended to go, so this can protect the (sand) dune,” says Hubley.

“To the far end of this road could be forest again, could be planted,” he adds.

Hubley is concerned what has now become a temporary parking lot next to the construction site on Crown land will remain that way.

“What protects the dune is a forest behind it, what does not protect a dune is people parking behind it and walking over it,” he says.

“I think the forest should be back in place, the private road should be moved north, this whole area could actually be in better shape than it was in 40 to 50 years” he continues.

Landowner Hussein Mousavi did not respond to CTV’s request for comment Monday. 

Mousavi was granted the necessary municipal and provincial permits for the work and has said he is following all required regulations.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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