Mystery development meeting packs Hampton café

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A mystery development that some politicians know about but residents don't, drew almost 200 people to a meeting in Hampton Wednesday night.

Sandy Foy, left, prepares to speak to a standing-room-only crowd at Bites Café in Hampton. Residents of the area suspect that some large-scale development is planned for the unincorporated area, but can't find out what it is. Foy spoke of his successful appeal against existing development activity in the same area.

Along the TransCanada highway just west of the bitter Plan B fight lie the unincorporated communities of DeSable and Hampton.

Residents there started to realize that someone was assembling land and rumours are swirling about what might be planned for waterfront land overlooking the Northumberland Strait. 

Area resident Marion Copleston has tried to research what is afoot and told the meeting she figures that some 200 acres and maybe as many as 500 have been bought by a developer.

Development rules are slack to non-existent for areas without a local official plan, the meeting heard.

It has area MLA Valerie Docherty in a tough position, as she explained to the generally polite and attentive crowd.

She said she has seen the proposed development plan, but only on condition that she not reveal details.

There is no official application at government so the project is preliminary, she said.

"I have constituents who, they believe, have the right to sell their land," she said.

Much of the land in this proposal is agriculture, she said.

"Farmers own it. This is their pension," said Docherty.

"I also have constituents that have chosen to live in this area. They are concerned about what is going to happen in their area.

"Then I have a situation where a private developer is putting together a proposal for what could be some very good economic development for this area."

Docherty said her role is to listen and take concerns forward to the different groups.

She told the developer that he should attend this meeting or send a written statement. Neither happened and Docherty said she is disappointed at that, and plans to tell the developer so.

"We have the potential for something good here," she said. "Between errors made by staff in government as well as a developer moving a little bit faster than we would prefer in Prince Edward Island, he has actually started off on the wrong foot.

"Tonight would have been an opportunity for him to try to begin to make amends," said Docherty.

The issue of whether to incorporate the area to create an official development plan was debated at the meeting.

Docherty told the meeting she consistently hears from people who don't want to be told what they can or can't do with their land.

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