Lake Vernon development would raise bar on environmental protection: Doughty

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The town of Huntsville’s planning committee is scheduled to take a closer look at a development being proposed around the shores of Vernon Lake by former mayor Claude Doughty.

The property in question is located on Etwell Road.

Doughty is proposing 12 waterfront building lots ranging from 2.5 to 10 acres. The lot frontage, depending on the lot, would range from 300 to 600 feet. “They will be very large lots that will set a significantly new and higher standard for environmental protection,” said Doughty.

Asked whether he’d also be the builder on those lots, Doughty said he may not be exclusively building there but he may do some building. “I may be because I’m doing a significant build on a recently-built place over on the other side of the lake that didn’t work out very well aesthetically, so I’m doing a total renovation on that and guess I’m getting into the building business.”

Doughty reiterated that he wants to raise the bar in terms of environmental protection and aesthetics. He said any boathouses or structures near the water will be an earth tone and if there is a de-icing mechanism it can’t be more than three metres away from the structure.

He said he’d like to put to use the things he’s learned over the past number of years to make a development fit better into the environment.

It’s a unique piece of property and we’ve spent the last six months doing environmental studies, archaeological studies, engineering studies and everything that’s required.Claude Doughty

The property is 250 acres, and an estimated 70 or 80 acres in the backlands will be placed in a special conservation area, “so that people there can use the trails and enjoy the natural setting.”

He said his plan is to have each lot privately held with roads and the backlands as the common elements among property owners.

In terms of the actual structures or homes, Doughty said there would be diversity. “I am re-fascinated with Frank Lloyd Wright and some of the stuff he did almost eighty years ago.”

Doughty said a few months ago he went to an area south of Pittsburgh to see one of Wright’s acclaimed architectural works called Fallingwater. “I’m really motivated by some of the design work he did and I’d like to do some things like that. There’s opportunity for all styles, they just have to be done to fit into the natural setting really, really well.”

The planning committee held a public meeting on the proposal on October 14 and various concerns were raised by those who have a stake on that lake.

Councillor Jonathan Wiebe, who sits on the committee, suggested that committee take a tour of the property to better understand the proposal. He said representatives from Camp Tawingo and youth from the school who camp on Rock Island spoke passionately about wanting to preserve Lake Vernon as natural as possible. He said residents around the lake expressed concern with development in and around very sensitive areas for habitat as well as at risk species.

Committee deferred any decisions until it’s had an opportunity to visit the site, scheduled for the first week of November.

It’s one thing to look at a map and it’s another to be on site and to really grasp what’s being asked of us and asked of the landCouncillor Jonathan Wiebe

He said based on the maps he saw there is a large area identified as wetlands and a road seems to traverse it.“I don’t know if that road exists already, or if they’re planning to put a road through a wetland, which is obviously two very different questions to be asked.”

He said the answers weren’t quite clear so he looks forward to a site visit in order to make a more informed recommendation on the proposed development.

1 Comment

  1. I certainly hope that the proposed subdivision represents the raising of the environmental bar for development. This is a beautiful property on a very visible section of the lake that has remained largely untouched for hundreds of years and contains great habitat for endangered species. BTW, the 300′ shoreline mentioned is the minimum required for deer wintering areas (the entire property) and the 600′ is for a shoreline that contains a wetland area as was initially designed to be two lots. Four of the lots currently propose the building site at the highest point on each lot, potentially interfering with the tree line and vistas from the lake. Unless specific restrictions are placed on the zoning of each lot, there will be no guarantees that the neutral-toned, environmentally respectful construction described does, in fact, take place.

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