Water Street development decision coming in Saint Andrews

Saint Andrews council is set to make a decision regarding the future of the proposed Water Street development at its next regular council meeting.

The multi-unit building proposal with both residential and commercial spaces, proposed by Bridle Path Project Inc. to be built at 256 and 260 Water St., still remains a concern for many neighbours. Around 20 residents attended a public hearing on Oct. 17 to weigh in on the project's height exemption requests once again. Council heard a strong opposition from the majority of neighbours during the session.

At his last presentation, developer John Rocca decided to stick to his four-storey plan for the project, seeking a height exemption for up to 12.2 metres through an amendment to the secondary municipal plan. At a later meeting, council made a modification to the height amendment stating that "the height can only be allowed if a developmental scheme bylaw is in place," Town Clerk Paul Nopper said adding the public hearing was organized because the modification was "a substantial change."

At the Oct. 17 hearing of objections, resident Douglas Greenaway addressed council via Zoom. He said he is "merely the vehicle" for the voice of his neighbourhood and about 45 households have signed a letter opposing the development on Water Street.

He said the group is committed toward protecting the town's "architecture, small town flavour and quality of life" and has presented its stand on multiple occasions against this project.

"We declare our full and complete opposition to the Bridle Path proposal as currently conceived. If I may be direct, this is the wrong project for this site," he said.

Greenaway added the project is not the perfect fit to the town's historic feel and the massing, scaling and height requirements for it to go ahead must not be supported. He said the group is also concerned about the "undesirable noise levels" and "light pollution" the building would cause due to multiple individual units and garage lighting, "mechanical and ventilations systems."

The residents are also worried about the building bringing "unacceptable levels of freight service and vehicular traffic to the immediate and near neighbourhood," he added, making it unsafe for those on foot, especially children and seniors.

"There is no enthusiasm for this project among the 45 households that have signed this letter," he said adding a developmental scheme bylaw, if approved, would become a "workaround device" to dodge compliance.

A handful of residents who attended the hearing were also in support of the project.

Franklin Cardy said council is elected by the community and should think of the broader problem this project can solve. He highlighted that it can create inventory in the housing units if the project is given a green light, but so far the property has been sitting as a wasteland.

He also said the developer is making "no demand" and is working with the town in addressing the neighbourhood's concerns. Cardy said there are no alternative proposals and council should wisely think and approve the project to make the land productive, instead of waiting for the time when a big box store will propose to open a branch at the location.

He said there is not much that can be done to make the project "look like a 100-year-old building."

"I believe you should allow it to proceed," said Cardy.

Nopper said council's goal was to listen to the members of the public that attended the hearing of objections and a discussion will take place in the next regular council meeting, when staff will present council with reports from the hearing, following which a decision will be made whether to move forward with the developmental scheme bylaw or not.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal