Chelsea residents sue developer who scrapped organic farm



A group of residents living in the Hendrick Farm development in Chelsea, Quebec, are suing the developer for removing the organic farm which they say is the reason they bought there in the first place.

Hendrick Farm, which is just west of Highway 5, is a tight-knit community of brightly colored houses, swings, and white fences. The development originally included a two-hectare organic farm as part of its promised “in perpetuity” plan.

Now the farmland is being transformed into a mixed-use area that includes features such as community gardens, orchards, picnic tables, walking trails and a possible ice rink, all open to the public.

“It was devastating to be honest,” said resident Jennifer Nadon.

“None of us expected that and it kind of makes you guess just how much I loved about living in this community.”

Nadon is one of 17 residents who signed a class action lawsuit against Hendrick Farm and the Hendrick Farm Foundation seeking a permanent injunction to return the land to its original state.

Bryan Hendry said he agreed to buy a house and live with the traffic noise on the nearby freeway because his porch overlooked an organic farm. (Jean Delisle / CBC)

“Like a nightmare”

Resident Bryan Hendry said he used to have his morning coffee on the porch overlooking the farmhouse, but the grass, newly planted trees and trails under construction are just not what he envisioned .

“There are a lot of tears. It was very upsetting because this is the house of our dreams and now it’s like a nightmare,” he said.

Hendry said he and other residents were drawn to the development of the Hendrick farm specifically because of the organic farm. Upon signing the purchase contract, the buyers and the developer agreed that one percent of home sales would go to the Hendrick Farm Foundation to maintain the space.

Hendry said he was shocked to hear the planned changes for the first time in November 2020. After unsuccessful attempts to change the course of the plan, Hendry said the group decided to take legal action. may.

“If we cannot repair the damage that has been caused, then we could claim damages,” he added.

WATCH: Residents of Hendrick Farm are upset after developer abandons organic farm:

A group of residents living in the Hendrick Farm development in Chelsea, Que., Are suing the developer for backing down on a five-acre organic farm originally promised to potential buyers. Residents Bryan Hendry and Jennifer Nadon signed the class action lawsuit, while Mike Cousineau did not. 1:33

“Litigious little cabal”

In a statement, Hendrick Farm developer Sean McAdam said the farm was not financially viable. In consultation with the community, an agreement was reached to move to “a less labor intensive agricultural model,” he wrote in a statement.

“I hope that over time this contentious little cabal can both see the beauty of the shared green spaces and ultimately celebrate the fact that it is near their own home,” McAdam wrote.

Still, one resident told CBC he felt “betrayed” and “played with”, while Jamie Herring wrote a letter to his neighbors denouncing the public use he had not signed up for.

“I can’t help but imagine the hundreds of people eating food, drinking beer, barbecuing, bringing their dogs and further denigrating the land and values ​​we bought,” Herring wrote.

Those involved in the legal battle have also expressed concern about how the space could transform once another $ 100 million joint development between Hendrick Farm and Nordik spa is completed.

Sean McAdam, who is behind the development of Hendrick Farm, calls the group seeking the injunction a “contentious cabal”. (Yasmine Mehdi / Radio-Canada)

Divided community

Not everyone in the community has a problem with the changed plans.

Mike Cousineau has lived at Hendrick Farm for almost five years and said some neighbors are anxiously awaiting the changes.

“I’m fine with it. I see the positive of the changes in terms of bringing the community together, a space to come together, a place to walk, to be with nature, but within a small urban community”, a- he declared.

Cousineau respects the rights of his neighbors to legal action.

The legal process is currently in the discovery phase and it is not known how long the process will take.

Some residents say the dispute over the future of farmland has divided the tight-knit community. (Jean Delisle / CBC)


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