Thursday, January 19, 2012

Union Street Development gets PAC nod

19 Jan 2012

A 69-unit residential waterfront development on Union Street received rezoning approval from Fredericton planning advisory committee Wednesday night.

But the committee also ordered developer Marx Miles to do a traffic study on the impact of the development to try and put to rest some of the concerns of area residents.

The development, which includes two apartment buildings and nine townhouses, is located at 678, 690, 692 and 700 Union St. and Miles said Wednesday night he hopes to start construction of the project in the spring if the rezoning is approved by city council.

“I’m pleased obviously,” said the developer about the approval.

Miles said he’s prepared to the do the traffic study. “That doesn’t concern me,” he said. “Union Street is a busy street. If we have to put in a left-hand turn we’re fully prepared to do that.”

The first phase will be worth $6 million with each of 30 units costing $200,000, said Miles.

The proposal to rezone the 1.2 hectare property along the riverfront first came before PAC in December. But it was deferred for a month to allow the developer to discuss the project with the neighbourhood.

“Most of the people in the area are happy with it,” said Miles. “We’ve had a few complaints but we’ve had a lot of support too. What we’ve torn down there is an eight unit full of drug dealers and people that weren’t good tenants. We’re going to get some good people in there now.”

There was opposition to the project at the council meeting. Elizabeth Simms of 664 Union St. said she’s worried about the traffic impact the project would have on an already busy street.

Miles is seeking a 3.5-metre setback variance and Simms asked what would happen if Union Street has to be widened in the future.

She also said rezoning the property from R4B to R9 sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of Union Street.

Heather Berry of 716 Union St. also expressed concern about the traffic on Union Street and side streets. She said the development doesn’t fit in the neighbourhood.

A petition opposing the project signed by eight area residents, including the two who spoke at the meeting, was received by the committee. “Allowing a row of nine townhouses, three storeys high and only eight feet from the highway would create a wall along Union Street, undesirable to many,” stated the petition. “Where is the green space/buffer zone?”

There was also a letter of opposition to the project filed with the committee.

The rezoning approval wasn’t unanimous. Coun. Marilyn Kerton and PAC member Alan Rayner opposed the motion, which passed five to two. Kerton questioned if the development fit the area’s secondary plan, which calls for stabilizing the R4B zoning in the neighbourhood. She said the development seems like spot rezoning no matter how PAC sugar-coated it.

But senior planner Tony Dakiv said the section of the Devon secondary plan talks about stabilizing R4B zoning refers to the section north of Union Street, which is primarily single family dwelling. It doesn’t refer to the land south of Union Street.

Miles said he was hoping the approval would be unanimous. “We’re improving the area by quite a bit,” he said. “It needs development and we’re doing it.”

Miles noted a city councillor opposed the rezoning Wednesday night. “That makes me wonder if it will go through (city council) as easily as I thought it would,” he said.

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