Claims for expropriated land complex

By Bill Power, Business Reporter Chronicle Herald
Published February 12, 2013

Board hearing cases seeking compensation from HRM

Some Middle Sackville landowners and developers have pushed ahead with their claim for about $1.2 million in compensation from Halifax Regional Municipality after their properties were expropriated for a highway.

The legal complexities of the case became apparent Tuesday after the Utility and Review Board set aside four days just to hear arguments.

“The terms of reference were changed,” Kevin Marchand, president of Ramar Developments Ltd., told the hearing.

Marchand said the Halifax regional planning process diminished the value of land lost in the expropriation process, resulting in less cash for the claimants.

He testified Tuesday he was “shocked and very disappointed” to learn in a December 2006 letter from the municipality that compensation for the expropriated land would be “based on market value as the properties were currently zoned.”

Marchand said the municipal ruling was entirely unexpected and amounted to “pulling the rug out from under” him and his business partners involved in the Twin Brooks residential development.

Planning for the development at the former Sackville Golf Course predated the regional planning process, he said.

The board heard that Ramar Developments partnered with the Armoyan family’s Armco Capital Inc. on the project.

Brison Developments Ltd. and landowners Harvey and Helen Lively are also claimants in the appeal. Halifax lawyer Rob Grant represents all the claimants, who feel they were shortchanged in the expropriation process.

The Twin Brooks partnership is seeking an adjustment to $715,000 after receiving $230,000 from the municipality through the expropriation. Brison Developments is claiming $150,000 after receiving $82,000, while Helen and Harvey Lively claim $252,000 after receiving $68,000.

Briefs filed with the board by Twin Brooks and the other claimants seek fair compensation for the lost land and for injurious affection.

The municipality rejects the claims and argues each of the claimants were compensated fairly under the provincial Expropriation Act and the municipal charter.

The land was expropriated for a planned connector highway called MacLennan Drive, scheduled for completion in 2017. The plan is known locally as the Beaver Bank bypass.

A municipal brief said this major collector highway received lots of attention and debate in the process of putting together a regional development plan adopted in 2006.

Municipal lawyer Karen E. MacDonald referenced the planning process several times during the proceedings Tuesday.

“Among many other things, it identifies areas for future road and transportation infrastructure development, including transportation corridors,” the brief said.

“HRM submits that the regional plan and the amendments to the Sackville land-use bylaw were an independent zoning enactment and part of an overall HRM plan, and not part of the expropriation proceedings.”

The hearing is expected to continue through to Friday, with a decision expected at a later date.

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