Contractors working for JN Lafford Realty Inc. began felling birch trees in the heart of downtown Sackville last week to make way for a controversial $6 million apartment building called “The York” that will cater to tenants over 55.
During an interview, John Lafford said he would have preferred not to cut the trees down.
“Yet they had to go for the building to be there,” he added, while promising to replace every tree.
“If we can’t put every one of them on the site, we’ll plant them anywhere that town council chooses,” Lafford said.
A majority of councillors voted last Monday to rezone part of the former Sackville United Church property at Main and York Streets so that the Laffords can construct a three-storey apartment building with underground parking.
The 35, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments, will come in a variety of sizes from 1,000 to 1,250 and 1,400 square feet. There will also be two 1,600 square foot units with lofts. Rents for the smaller apartments will range from $1,250 to $1,750 per month with utilities included.
Lafford says the building’s three apartment storeys will be brick, while the first storey underground parking — visible from the Main Street side — will be stone.
He adds he already has a list of people who are interested in renting some of the apartments and that the building should be ready for occupancy next summer.
Petition to save trees
During last week’s town council meeting, Erna Duchemin asked councillors to consider a petition that she, her husband John and a small group of citizens had been taking door to door in downtown Sackville neighbourhoods. (To read the text of the petition, click here.)
Duchemin said they obtained 159 signatures from people opposed to the rezoning partly because of the loss of trees and green space in the heart of downtown.
“Many people thanked us for letting them know,” she wrote in an e-mail to Warktimes. “Believe it or not quite a few people were unaware of the rezoning and the proposed development.”
Duchemin also wrote to members of the Mount Allison University Board of Regents who responded that they had confidence in whatever the town would decide.
Her e-mails to Premier Gallant and other provincial officials raising concerns about how possible runoff from the site could affect wetlands in the Waterfowl Park brought no action.
She writes that even though she delivered the petition to town council the Friday before their meeting, none of the councillors asked about the concerns of those who signed it.
“They already had their minds made up,” she writes.
Finally, Duchemin writes that even though the new building is zoned for mixed use, there will be no retail stores on the ground floor because of the underground parking.
“What a loop hole!” she writes. “It is just another apartment building, not really bringing more business to the downtown area. Let’s hope these people who move into the building can support the businesses downtown!”