The clock is now ticking on Olde Town Hills, a new residential project on Bridgewater's west side, and the developer risks termination of its contractual deal with the town if most of the first steps of the concept are not finished on time.
New clauses added to the development agreement dictate Bridgewater can cancel the deal with the owners, a Dartmouth-based numbered company, if construction does not start within 18 months, and if building happens to stop for a year. The town also has the option to part ways with the city company if it does not finish most of first phase within five years or all steps within 10 years.
Town council authorized the changes during a recent public session.
"I know we're all looking forward to this project beginning and I appreciate the willingness of the developer to agree to our amendments," David Mitchell, Bridgewater's mayor, said during the council meeting.
Olde Town Hills, straddles the boundary separating Bridgewater and Hebbville in the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL). Seven hectares of the development are located outside Bridgewater but the development agreement deals with the six hectares on the town side.
Civic politicians postponed changes to the development deal to add more stringent construction timelines. The deal dates back to 2012, under former owners and a different name (EagleRidge Estates), but no building construction has started. Two new public streets were built on the property after the numbered company acquired the site and those deeds were turned over to the town in 2019.
"For clarity, this amendment directs council to consider the agreement at the five-year and 10-year time horizons and provides three options for council to explore: retain, negotiate, or discharge," Jessica McDonald, the town's community development director, said in a written report.
"This is not an automatic discharge of the agreement and requires discussion with the developer and an assessment of the progress on the development by staff at both of the time horizons within the clause."
She told council the owners are agreeable to the new thresholds. "Given [the] market, given conditions, given what it takes to get a development up-and-going, the developer, he felt reasonably confident that could be met and that would be a good measure."
The company applied for a minor change to consolidate lots and replace a building proposed for the consolidated piece of land. Council was not agreeable to a proposed new clause added by planning staff with the blessing of the land owners, to establish a new 10-year window for the first aspects of the project to be built before council had options. As a result, a vote to authorize the amendments was delayed.
Factoring in the minor changes proposed by the developer, the initial phase of Olde Town Hills will be comprised mostly of five single detached dwellings, 20 semi-detached dwellings, and two multi-residential buildings containing 34 and 36 units each.
A future plan shows an additional 20 semi-detached dwellings, four townhouses and one 24 unit multi-residential complex are also part of the developer's plans within the town's boundary.
McDonald's report suggested there is nothing stopping the company from finishing construction on the MODL side before the town aspects. MODL's land-use and planning rules allow for development, however it would mean sites would have septic and wells established and streets built to MODL standards.
According to McDonald's written report, "It is highly unlikely that this would occur."