UPDATED STORY: Crescent beach development raises ire of locals


  • <p>Kevin McBain PHOTO</p><p>A rock wall, has been erected on what is called locally, as Little Crescent Beach, just off the main beach of the well-known main, Crescent Beach. Behind it is preparation work being done in preparation for construction.</p>
  • <p>SOURCE: Peter Barss/FACEBOOK</p><p>Here you can see the water lapping up against the rock wall.</p>

This is an updated story that includes comments from the owner of the properties in question.

CRESCENT BEACH - A new development on Crescent Beach has raised the ire of citizens in the community and beyond.

Recently, preparation work began on three lots on what is known locally as, little Crescent Beach, just off the main beach. A road has been built to the site and a 12.2 metre, a more than two metre rock wall has been erected.

Rumours have been swirling as to what is going on and many locals aren't happy. Karen Reinhardt, who lives in the area has organized an information meeting at Petite Riviere Fire Hall for March 25 from 3-6 p.m. to address the situation.

Peter Barss, who is from the area and jogs on the beach almost every day said it's tough to see another "wild" location getting developed.

"In the grand scheme of things, this project doesn't mean much, but when you multiply it by all the other projects, similar to this across the province, it adds up a lot. Basically, Nova Scotia is becoming a playground for the wealthy," he said.

"The main problem is that this is symptomatic of a much larger issue," he said, adding that the meeting, which he will be a part of is to deal with the many rumours and quell some of the anger that is being caused. "We want to tone that down a bit and look at the situation realistically and factually," he said.

Lucy Steele Hendrixson, who grew up on nearby Bush Island, said that "it's my understanding that this has been done, with permits and all above board."

She added if that's the case, then there is much work to be done.

The hope of the meeting and recent interviews with media is to bring attention to this issue and potentially lobby local and provincial governments to pause some of these types of developments until there are regulations in place, she said.

In an email, owner of the properties, Hossein Mousavi, a developer and philanthropist, said "we are like many people and fell in love with this special beach and this beautiful area more than 20 years ago, and we feel very fortunate that were were able to purchase the three properties when the opportunities arose over the last 10 years.

"In speaking to our neighbours and reading comments online, it's clear that the broader community believes what we believe, that Crescent Beach is a special place worth protecting."

Mousavi outlined some of his plans for the properties including building one cottage on each of the properties for personal and family use.

Two of the properties are on the shoreline and they came with two, older sea walls that were worn and damaged. The new wall that is in place runs also runs across a short span between the two pre-existing walls where no evidence of a wall could be found.

He said in the email that he would not be comfortable in attending the group's public information meeting, because of the nature of some of the comments that have been posted, however, he said Hendrixson will share concerns and requests of those attending the meeting.

Tom MacEwan, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) said that the area is not a zoned area in the municipality and there are no restrictions or limitations from the municipal perspective on the use of the property.

Mousavi said in the "absence of a requirement from the municipality, we are using the Town of Lunenburg recommendation that a property's minimum habitable space be 3.2 metres above the OHWM (Ordinary High Water Mark) to avoid tidal flooding. The wall's elevation is 2.4 metres above the OHWM and we will make up the 0.8 metre difference by placing our cottages on screw piles to protect them from tidal flooding.

"This is a great example of development that would be influenced by the Coastal Protection Act (CPA) and its regulations," said MacEwan. "The CPA will create a coastal protection zone, and according to the proposed regulations the province is looking at the upland zone, which would be from the high water mark inland, 80-100 metres. But since the province hasn't enacted them yet, people are free to do what they want on the shoreline."

Mousavi did say they removed a large sand hill, some mature trees and grasses on one property to make room for the updated wall, prepare the ground for a cottage and to bury utility services. The sand will be re-used to sculpt, replant and "otherwise restore the site to a natural form."

He added that they kept the sensitive wetlands in mind, so "we sited our cottages and infrastructure closer to the beach sides of our properties. That's why our construction plans included a sea wall and measures to avoid disturbing the wetlands entirely."

The CPA was passed in 2019 and has gone through several stages and is scheduled to be released sometime this year.

He said until this is passed, this type of construction will continue to occur.

Lunenburg West MLA Becky Druhan's office has been inundated with messages voicing their concern.

"I share our community's love and concern for our beautiful coastal areas. As your MLA, I want to assure you that I have been monitoring the situation and take the concerns of the community very seriously," she said in an email.

She further stated that she has been in discussions with staff at the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNRR) and the provincial Environment and Climate Change (NS-ECC). Both departments will be represented at the March 25th meeting.

Her sentiment is shared by MODL Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson. "The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg is deeply concerned about the situation at Crescent Beach and echoes the community concerns," she said in an emailed statement.

"Council is calling upon the province of Nova Scotia to immediately implement the Coastal Protection Act regulations. In addition to council's letter to the province, I will recommend to council that MODL expedite municipal planning for shoreline protection."

LighthouseNOW reached out to the NS-ECC and the DNRR and received email responses.

Spokesperson Mikaela Etchegary, reiterated that staff from the NS-ECC have inspected the site on three occasions, once in February and on March 14 and 21 and did not find any violations of the Environment Act or its regulations.

She said there was also no evidence of a wetland or any watercourse being infilled or altered and that there was no change to the footprint of the access road in relation to the wetland.

From the NDRR point of view, she stated that the landowner had applied and was granted a permit for vehicle access across the beach to build the rock wall. The permit came with numerous conditions, including not operating at high tide, not operating in the water, and placing materials from the land, not from the beach.

"We understand there are concerns with the placement of the rock wall and whether it infringes onto Crown land," she said. "We are taking the concerns of the community seriously and staff are looking into it."

The newly-created wall is encroaching the high water mark, with waves lapping up against it, as shown in photos.

Regarding permits, she said that NS-ECC has issued some on-site sewage sewage disposal systems approvals for some of the dwelling on these properties and added no permits are required for wells created by private property owners.

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