Community voices objections to Saint Andrews development

Submitted photo A proposed 36-unit residential development, with commercial space, is moving its way through the planning approval process in Saint Andrews despite public concerns over height.

SAINT ANDREWS – A public hearing of objections for the water street development in Saint Andrews took place on Oct. 17.

Bridle Path International Inc. has presented development plans for a mixed residential and commercial development at the Water Street and Princess Royal corner. The property requires an exemption from the secondary municipal plan, which currently restricts the anticipated height of the new development.

Bridle Path International Inc. has maintained that the 36 apartment and additional commercial space building would not impact the current cityscape of Saint Andrews. However, many community members voiced numerous other concerns.

Rev. Douglas Greenaway spoke for 45 households as he read from a letter they all signed.

“I am merely the vehicle that is facilitating this,” he said.

The residents supporting the letter voiced concerns for protecting the architecture and history of Saint Andrews, strongly declaring their opposition to the development.

“This is the wrong project for this site,” said Greenaway, stating that it undermines and violates the spirit and overarching intent of the Historic District’s purpose and policies.

Additional light pollution from the building, which the group maintains is unreasonable, undesirable additional noise from the development, and increased vehicular traffic making the space unsafe for pedestrians were other objections the group raised.

Some have argued that the previous development on the property, HMS Transportation, generated high traffic.

Greenaway responded, “They simply do not compare with either the reality or the facts.

“To be clear, we support reasonable, respectful, sensitive, and thoughtful development in the town. Successful development is far more than building heights and aesthetics,” he said. “It demands that town leadership refrain from fast-tracking the interest of individual property owners and developers over the interests of the community.”

Barry Murray, representing the views of Saint Andrews Pacific Trust, voiced similar objections.

“The approval of a fourth storey abandons explicit intent of the secondary municipal plan,” he said, adding the approval of exemption for this development sets a precedent, inviting future developments to expect similar treatment.

The purpose of the secondary municipal plan was to guide the growth in Saint Andrews in a consistent manner. It was a lengthy process for the previous council to finalize. An attendee of the meeting raised the concern that if council doesn’t continue to respect the secondary municipal plan, then there isn’t much motivating the residents of Saint Andrews to do so.

Tension settled around the room as Mayor Brad Henderson defended council against the claim that they had not been totally open with the public, saying, “Not one person here has been a part of a development scheme.”

“One development does not make a historic district, but one can immediately degrade the character,” said Ken Dobian. “It’s just not safe. It’s also about the built environment we create for how communities and individuals thrive in the area.”

Chair of the archives, Franklin Cardi said, “At the archives we are concerned with our heritage, but we are also concerned with community and social development.”

The vacant wasteland as Cardi described it is currently generating no economic value for the town. Since there is a significant demand for residential property in Saint Andrews, Cardi made the argument that the public has no way of knowing what the alternative might be if the development plan is rejected.

“Do you imagine after all this effort, a better (plan) will be found for this property?” he asked his fellow meeting attendees.

“I strongly urge the council to approve this proposal and show that the council is not against much-needed development,” he said.

Though other community members raised objections due to the building obstructing their view, they were reminded that a view is not purchased with property.

The property has received no other offers after being on the market for seven years.

heatherknight@stcroixcourier.ca