What type of development should and shouldn’t be allowed in the Battery was the question the City of St. John’s wanted to ask the public Wednesday night.
About 40 people turned out to a public meeting at St. John’s City Hall to have their say on proposed guidelines for the development of current non-residential properties in the historic area, such as wharves, twine stores and stages.
But at several points, the discussion drifted to other related topics — traffic in the area, the size of former buildings that are no longer there and a controversial parking area the city built last year.
The city asked architect Philip Pratt to write a report and make recommendations on what should be included in the new development guidelines.
Pratt said his recommendations closely follow residential development guidelines for the Battery already adopted by council.
He said the original study aimed to simplify the approval process, encourage development in the area, preserve existing private views and the iconic image of the area.
Pratt looked at 16 properties — some of which have been destroyed or removed and some which still exist but have been deemed unstable by the city.
He recommended repairs, infill developments or replacement buildings be based on historical uses and that building exteriors match the traditional style of the Battery.
After Pratt presented his report, people lined up at the microphone, starting with Glen Critch.
Critch said he’s been trying to develop three of the 16 lots in question— which have been in his family for generations — for a number of years.
He’s frustrated that one deal, to build a million-dollar home, fell through while he waited for the city to tell him what was acceptable or not.
“I’m here to (find out) what we can do and what we cannot do because I was told by people in this building that I could never rebuild out there,” said Critch. “I’ve had a bitter taste when it comes to the Battery. And I’ve been treated very, very unfair.”
Critch also said the city forced him to tear down at least one old store which used to be on one of the sites.
A real estate agent who accompanied Critch said if people build on the land, they won’t be rebuilding sheds or stores, but putting up homes.
That prompted Angela Drake to ask what impact 16 potential new homes would have on increased traffic on the narrow roadways of the Battery, not to mention parking.
“That’s like doubling the … number of residences down in the Outer Battery. These days everybody (has) a car. And that’s a concern because we’ve got a small road,” she said.
Later in the evening, Charlie Pearcey asked if he needed a permit, and an architect’s design, for a slipway connected to his twine store to tie up his two small boats.
Pearcey’s store was one of the properties reviewed by Pratt.
Pearcey said for five generations, his family has put out a slipway and taken it in when adverse weather is forecast.
When he was told he would have to have city approval, Piercy was incensed and called that ridiculous.
“I’m not going to make an application. I’m going to put it out,” Pearcey said.
He said if the city forces him to take it down, he’ll hit the open-line shows in protest.
The comments collected at the meeting will be part of a report council will get before it votes on the proposed development regulations.