Town nixes 27-unit apartment development

ROTHESAY • Rothesay's town council has thrown cold water on a proposed apartment development, despite the project being supported by town staff and the planning advisory committee.

Developer Andrew McKay pitched his three-storey apartment building for 50 Hampton Rd. at a rowdy public hearing in January, where several residents and a rival local developer spoke ill of the project.

Chief among the complaints of homeowners was traffic congestion due to increased density in the Hampton Road area, along with concerns of declining property values. The proposed location of the apartment was a stone's throw from several previously approved large scale apartment developments, slated to add dozens of housing units along Rothesay's main thoroughfare.

The developer said the 27-unit project would be the town's "flagship" apartment complex, including three “affordable” units with rents no higher than $1,200 a month, along with accessibility-friendly units, electric vehicle charging stations and other amenities.

Deputy mayor Matt Alexander acknowledged the community's need for more housing, but even the rent deemed "affordable" would still be around $1,200, with the market-rate rents nearly double, which he said was disappointing.

"That's steep, in my opinion."

Rothesay mayor Nancy Grant spoke in favour of the project given the region's prolonged housing affordability crisis. She said some would-be home buyers are forced to rent due to high interest rates and mortgages.

"Nationally, rental units are at their lowest in 20 years," she said. "I understand the concerns of residents, but for the need of rental housing, I'd like to speak in favour of the project."

But mayors only vote on motions in the case of a tie – and in this instance, council voted unanimously against the project.

A traffic study cited during the public hearing said the development would have a negligible impact on the town's roadways, but councillors weren't convinced, as the study didn't take into account the otherr multi-unit apartment buildings which are soon to break ground near Hampton Road.

"I do my own traffic study," Coun. Helen Boyle said. "I'm not a traffic engineer, but it takes 15 minutes to get out of Rothesay High School any day of the week."

Adding another apartment building, she said, would be "a really bad idea."

Her sentiments were echoed by the deputy mayor, along with councillors Bill McGuire, Dave Brown and Peter Lewis.

During the public hearing, the project was accused of being a "done deal" by nearby resident Jane Grannan, who described living across the street from apartment buildings as “upsetting," adding “everyone in the neighbourhood works hard for what they own.”

She said she had “lost a lot of sleep," and accused the town of not “looking out for residents that live in the area."

Marlo Glass, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal