Bridgewater authorizes minor change of development deal with auto shop


Civic politicians in Bridgewater sanctioned a minor change to a three-and-half-year-old development deal so an east side automotive repair business is no longer in breach of the agreement.

At issue was one aspect of LaHave Street Auto Clinic's 2017 contractual arrangement with the town: the nine metre maximum width of any point of access or aisles on the shop's south LaHave Street property.

The actual width at the business is nearly double that amount.

"The reason why that site access width maximum was recommended is really due to the potential pedestrian conflict that having a really large driveway creates," Nelson Nolan, a junior planner with the town, told an April 12 council meeting. "It creates a larger turning radius which increases speed of the driver and just creates some visibility issues for pedestrians."

The town's development department wanted council to direct its staff to fix the issue at the expense of the property owner. The estimated cost: $2,500.

But council declined the action, deciding a minor change to make the deal legal did not significantly alter the intended effect of the agreement. The move also still meets land-use rules in the zone.

LaHave Auto Clinic owner Richard Knickle applied for the change in February. Council authorized it April 12.

Months ago, an inspection of the site by the town's development officer noted four violations, mostly involving measurements of access, landscaping requirements and parking lot separation.

It took a series of additional inspections by town staff, in-person talks with property officials, letters and deadlines, until all but one of the problems discovered in 2019 were resolved.

The 2017 agreement allowed the business to add two more service bays with an additional 81 square metres attached to its existing 108-square-metre building on south LaHave Street. Town legislation stated additions larger than 4.5 square metres required a development deal.

Although, the business meets the requirements, Mayor David Mitchell said he hopes for a better effort from the property owners in terms of landscaping. The lack of greenery is not really in the spirit of the deal, he said.

"I don't think that [it] is accomplished with just the planter boxes," he told his council colleagues. "I think it has to contain the actual plants."

Councillor Wayne Thorburne didn't weigh-in on the discussion. He declared a conflict-of-interest because a family member works at the business in question.

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