The owner of a car wash in Quispamsis, N.B., is considering legal action against the community after it rejected his plan to use well water to supply his business.
Dr. Jeffrey Sheppard said he saw the need for a “soft touch” car wash and after what he describes as a lengthy process examining several different sites, he opened Wash 66 on Pettingill Road about 15 months ago.
The road is not serviced by the town’s water system.
As part of his initial agreement, Sheppard said he agreed to have water trucked in and stored at the business location. He said he also had a provision that would allow him to use well water.
Sheppard had a well dug on the property and had a firm, Fundy Engineering, conduct an extensive study of water levels, which came back positive.
“Provided we found adequate water supply, we met the conditions in our developer’s agreement for the amendment we proposed,” Sheppard said. “A hydrological study that showed a lot of water available, that this would not be an issue.”
An amendment to allow well water use at the car wash included a pledge that Sheppard would return to using trucked-in water if levels in the well were not stable or fell below certain thresholds.
It was endorsed by the Town of Quispamsis’ Planning Advisory Committee, but town council rejected the amendment by a 3-to-2 vote on Tuesday.
Sheppard said he was disappointed because he had worked closely with the town, and believed he had met all the criteria laid out in his initial agreement.
“They decided not to look at the facts and the evidence presented,” Sheppard said. “It’s a political situation. I can’t say why.”
Beth Thompson was one of the councillors who voted to defeat the amendment.
She said she approved the initial agreement with Sheppard because water was being trucked in but that well water plan was never a guarantee.
“Yes, it was there,” Thompson said of the well water provision in the initial agreement. “But also, it wasn’t there to say, ‘You can have a well.’ It was, ‘You can come before council for approval.'”
Sheppard said his legal team is in pursuit of a judicial review, arguing council ignored the facts in rejecting the amendment.
He said it could take three-to-six months, but a ruling in his favour could reverse council’s decision and get well water flowing.
“There’s a lot of extensive financial burden associated with this continuation down this road,” Sheppard said. “But at the end of the day, we weren’t given a choice based on council’s decision Tuesday but to take this approach.”
Thompson said Sheppard is entitled to do what he wants to do.
“I couldn’t possibly guess what would change,” Thompson said. “It is a vote of council. As I say, that’s democracy. That’s the way it works.”
Global News contacted the other two councillors who voted against the amendment, Deputy Mayor Libby O’Hara and Councillor Kirk Miller. O’Hara declined to comment. An interview could not be arranged with Miller.