Summerside committee withholds blessing for waterfront property rezoning
A request to rezone a vacant property on Water Street in Summerside will move ahead to city council – but not with the blessing of the technical services committee.
The committee met Monday to discuss the request and to hear staff’s report on the proposal.
The property in question, 565 Water St., has been an empty lot for decades. It’s owned by the Summerside Regional Development Corporation (SRDC), which has requested that it be rezoned from R3 to R4. Both zonings allow for multi-unit housing, which is what has been proposed for the site, but R4 allows for higher density of units.
City staff recommended the request be approved.
The committee, which consists of councillors Bruce MacDougall, Gordie Whitlock and Brent Gallant, digressed from that recommendation and voted 2-1 to move the request on to the full council but without recommending that it be adopted.
Council has the final say on the matter and will be discussing the rezoning at its August meeting.
Whitlock and Gallant both expressed reluctance to allow the rezoning, though Gallant admitted to being torn on the subject. MacDougall didn’t express an opinion.
Whitlock’s main concern was for surrounding property owners, most of whom are single family residential units.
Those people, he argued, bought their homes with a certain expectation of what the neighbourhood would look like, and he does not like the idea of changing that.
“I don’t think it’s fair that residents of the city should have to be concerned that when they buy their home, … that council is sometime going to rezone the property next door,” he said.
Gallant was less rigid in his opposition, stating that while he shared some of Whitlock’s concerns, he was also interested in seeing the property developed to its potential.
“The property was going to be developed in any case – it’s just what would be there and what would be the best use of that property,” said Gallant.
SRDC has been in contact with a potential buyer who is interested in building an apartment complex on the property. However, no firm commitment has been made, as the proponent is waiting to see how this rezoning request plays out.
SRDC has said in the past rezoning the property, which is prime waterfront land, into a higher density zoning would be prudent regardless of whether this deal moves ahead.