Sackville town councillors heard publicly tonight about JN Lafford Realty’s plans to build a luxury apartment building on the former United Church property at Main and York Streets overlooking the Mount Allison campus, the Swan Pond and the Waterfowl Park.
John and Joe Lafford are asking town council to rezone a small parcel of land at the rear of the old United Church cemetery on Main Street so that the development can proceed.
Mayor John Higham clarified a key point with town planner Lori Bickford: that if council decided not to rezone the land, the Laffords could still erect a smaller building on the site and use the parcel behind the cemetery for parking.
At the moment, the Laffords are proposing to put the parking underneath the larger, 44,000 square-foot building that would cater to tenants over age 55 able to pay monthly rents ranging from $1,250 to $1,700.
Councillor Bill Evans spoke in favour of rezoning the small parcel from institutional to mixed use — a designation that permits higher density developments in the downtown area.
He pointed out that when the Laffords bought the United Church land in 2012, town council decided then to rezone most of it as mixed use, but wasn’t sure of the boundaries, so a small part remained institutional.
“For me, this is a fairly easy one to justify,” Evans said. “It’s consistent with the other use of that whole area, it’s consistent with our municipal plan and zoning bylaw that we would do this.”
Evans said that after The New Wark Times published a story about the proposed development, there was a lot of excitement.
“People have come up to me and said, ‘How do I sign up for this?'” he added.
“I know people of a certain age, some of them, and this is an attractive option, the location is ideal, so I got no problems with this, this makes sense to me.”
Council is expected to decide at its next meeting on Monday whether to proceed with the rezoning application and then, schedule a public hearing on the matter.