Sackville developer Gordon Beal has suggested he may try for a third time to win approval for a three-storey, 18-unit apartment building behind the historic Allison/Fisher/Fawcett House at 131 Main Street.
Beal recently cleared trees and bushes from the large lot behind the Georgian-style mansion he bought from SGCI after the advertising and marketing firm went out of business in 2009.
He points out that the land — about one-and-a-half acres — is a big open space now that the trees are gone.
“It shows how much land I’ve got back there,” Beal said during a telephone interview. “I should be able to do something there, I would think.”
He added that the town already has the plans from his previous rezoning application, which town council rejected in 2014.
When asked if he could re-apply using those plans, Beal replied, “Yes, I would.”
Rezoning still required
Town planner Lori Bickford says Beal would still need to get council’s approval to rezone the land from its current status as Residential Historic Commercial (RHC) to Urban Residential 3 (R3).
She explained that the RHC designation recognizes that many old downtown mansions are too big for single families, but are suitable for residential and commercial uses.
After town council rejected his first request for a rezoning in 2010, Beal had the building redesigned to incorporate elements of the Georgian mansion that dates from around 1841.
The Tribune-Post reported that in rejecting his second request for rezoning in 2014, some councillors expressed concerns about development on a prime property near the Sackville Waterfowl Park.
At the time, the newspaper quoted Kathy Beal, who spoke for her father, as saying: “I don’t understand why they’re not giving us a permit…but there are other builders in town who have carte blanche,” a reference to council’s approval for a multi-unit development by JN Lafford Realty Inc. on Waterfowl Lane next to the park.
Concern for felled trees
Warktimes first learned that something was happening at the rear of 131 Main Street after receiving messages from residents concerned about the loss of so many trees. One e-mail suggested getting in touch with Sackville resident Peter Higham, who was pursuing the matter with the town.
During a telephone interview, Higham said he called town planner Lori Bickford who told him that Sackville has no rules or bylaws restricting the removal of trees on private property.
Higham added it’s a shame that a small urban forest is gone.
“It was almost to me like a park, not planted trees. They were more like a small piece of the woods right in the middle of town,” he says. “Every time I had been anywhere near that area, there had been a lot of birds in the trees, so there were some big trees in there.”
Higham says he wonders why Beal would remove the trees before receiving approval from the town for any development on the land.
However, Beal says the trees were blowing over and needed to be cleared, along with the thick undergrowth.
“It looked an awful mess there, you know,” he adds. “Right in the centre it was just a tangle of stuff…I’m glad I took them down. It looks much better.”
Later, during our interview, Beal said he also wanted the town to know the size of his property.
“That’s the reason I took it down, took everything down, to show how much land was really there.”