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Grand Valley: Abandoned Monticello Subdivision Update


Grand Valley may finally make progress on the long-standing issue of the abandoned subdivision in Monticello.

On June 22, 2021, Grand Valley’s council received a report from the Clerk-Treasurer and Chief Administrative Officer Meghan Townsend regarding constructing a road in the former “Hill Town subdivision” in the town’s hamlet of Monticello. RJ Burnside and Associates, engineers for the municipality, estimate the costs for the project to be $1,730,000. Split among the twenty-one lots that the road would service, payments would be approximately $82,000 each. 

According to the staff report, in the 1970s, Grand Valley received a proposal to construct a small subdivision consisting of 22 lots and roadways on Sideroad 21-22, north of the intersection at County Road 15 in Monticello. In the 1990s, the subdivision lost its registered status as the development had not progressed. Consequently, property owners were not able to convey or transfer their lots. Grand Valley has taken ownership of some of the lots over the years due to unpaid property taxes.

“We have lots that could be sold if the road is built,” pronounced Townsend to Grand Valley council. “If council wants to proceed, then I guess the next step would be to contact all the property owners that have lots around that subdivision and discuss these ideas with them.” 

Townsend said that any costs the town incurs would likely be recouped afterwards.

“Lots that have a road are far more valuable than they are now,” remarked Grand Valley’s CAO. “Those are twenty-one lots just sitting.

The diagrams from RJ Burnside show that the Monticello road would be crescent shaped with both entrances on Sideroad 21-22.

“Upon review, the design puts a road through a hay field, but it does not do very much to pre-grade the future lots,” says Gord Feniak of RJ Burnside in his report. “Currently we try to do more work in that regard to avoid fill movement after the road is built.”

Feniak states that an updated design would require a site survey that had not been performed as the report’s writing. It also mentions that if the project were approached as a new subdivision application, studies would be required for water supply, stormwater management, environmental protection, etc. Since Grand Valley wants to build a road designated in the original subdivision agreement with slight changes to meet current road standards, that work and the associated expenses are unnecessary.

The costs included in RJ Burnside’s $1,730,000 price estimate are as seen below. Feniak states that more accurate costing can be made when a design is completed. He suggests that final charges could be less than predicted.

  • $1,366,000 for the road being constructed to the minimal requirements, like what would have been built 40 years ago. This includes services such as street lighting, hydro, and drainage outlets.
  • $364,000 for additional work such as stormwater management, external road improvements along Sideroad 21-22, and landscaping.

Grand Valley Councillor Steve Miles inquired the town’s planner Mark Kluge if all the properties could be sold to a developer.

“Is there any opportunity to just sell it as a lump to a developer like Thomasfield and say it’s all ready to go?” asked Councillor Miles. 

Planner Mark Kluge responded by saying that since there is no subdivision agreement to guide the town in the sale, he is unsure how the deal would occur as that sets out all the conditions that have to be fulfilled beforehand. Kluge explained how the lots are zoned residential hamlet, each with roll numbers and charged municipal taxes. If a developer were interested, they would have to buy each lot individually.

“We have lots that exist, which I still don’t understand, but that’s the way it was done,” described Grand Valley’s planner. “When that road comes in, and it’s a town road, those lots can be sold to people.”

Kluge delineated how the road’s construction would be accompanied by electrical and telecommunications services for each of the lots. It was mentioned how it is currently assumed that property-owners will have to supply their own well and septic services. Gas lines for heating are also not included in the road construction plans. 

“I’m not sure we can get fourteen, or whatever, owners all to agree to spend $82,000 ‘on spec’ that they can sell their lot and make money on it,” commented Miles, illustrating why he asked if selling to a developer was faster and simpler solution than building a road.

Kluge replied that, from his perspective, the town would need to build a road if they want to see a resolution. The planner said that it might be possible that the municipality could put liens on the properties if owners do not pay upfront so that costs are recouped when lots are sold but stated that is a legal matter. It was also pointed out that revenue would be generated from development charges, approximately $11,500 per lot, and increased property taxes in perpetuity.

“It’s an anomaly right now in the town,” stated Kluge. “From a planning perspective, it’s zoned and designated. Unless you want to turn it back into farmland, there’s really nothing for planning to do.”

Grand Valley’s Deputy Mayor Rentsch and Councillor Rick Taylor pointed out the additional costs on top of the $82,000 for the road that the property owners would incur. This includes development charges and the payments for installing heating, a well, and a septic system. Councillor Taylor raised concerns over whether a communal water system would be needed instead of individual wells.

“I know the Ministry of Environment isn’t too crazy about individual wells right now,” declared Taylor while asking staff to make inquiries on the matter with the town’s engineers. 

CAO Townsend answered that they had already investigated it with RJ Burnside, and they are unsure.

“There’s some testing that is going to have to happen to see the water table,” noted Kluge. “Building permits aren’t going to be issued unless each lot can have a well and septic system for it.

CAO Townsend suggested that the town have one of the lots it owns tested to explore what is involved. The market values of the subdivision lots may also be examined. It was decided that the town would contact the affected property owners to get their input on constructing a road.

“I imagine there’ll be buy-in from some and not from others, it’s hard to say,” said Grand Valley’s Mayor Steve Soloman.

References – Grand Valley: Abandoned Monticello Subdivision Update

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