Residents air beefs about condo development

Josh Pennell
Published on June 5, 2014

The future neighbours of a planned apartment and rowhouses development off Blackmarsh Road in St. John’s took their concerns to a public meeting Wednesday night.

Karwood Estates was represented by commercial manager Jim Ford. Ford showed a concept drawing of the development that is open to change and reiterated several times that as long as the city approves, the developers will consult with neighbours and do the best they can to meet their preferences.

The development still needs a zoning change.

But for many of the 50 or so people at the meeting, the preference seemed to be to not allow the development to continue at all.

Gloria Kennedy lives in the neighbourhood and raised concerns at the meeting about the destruction of green space that will happen to develop the property.

“There’s not going to be a tree to be seen and not a bird to be heard,” she said.

Kennedy’s concerns were echoed by several people who don’t live in the immediate area but who don’t want to see the several acres of land the developer needs from the city sold for development. Linda Bartlett described zombie neighbourhoods, devoid of vegetation and any character.

Kennedy also encouraged the developers to look at unique ways to keep trees and greens spaces in the development so as not to shock the area into loss of more untouched land.

The issue of green space specifically for children was also raised by several people with the individuals pressing the need for parks for children even before the development goes in.

Paul Pope is a father who lives on Blackmarsh Road. The increase in traffic and the lack of areas for kids to play is a concern for him.

“Next thing you know we’re going to have a lot more kids in our area, which can’t support it. We can’t support the kids in our area now. We’ve got nowhere for them to go,” he said.

David Dooley, another Blackmarsh Road resident, had concerns about the proposed four-storey height becoming higher.

“What kind of roof?” Dooley asked, commenting that four storeys would become six depending on the type of roof used.

Ford said he preferred a flatroof, but the neighbours could give input into what they preferred. Ford had a shadow concept diagram with him showing which residents would be most affected by shadow and to what degree. That would change depending on the type of roof used.

The most arduous opposition to the development was raised by Ray Hopkins, vice-president of the Meadows Condominium Corp., which represents 49 condo residents next to the land Karwood Estates hopes to develop.

Hopkins told his concerns to The Telegram prior to the meeting and again read them out on behalf of the condo owners he represents. Many of the concerns come down to traffic, trash and sewage. Hopkins said increasing the number of condos in the area will drastically increase the amount of traffic. He said that will make it more difficult and dangerous for people like him to make a left-hand turn to get onto Captain Whelan Drive and Columbus Drive. The sewage concerns comes from Hopkins’ worry that the development will have to tap into their sewage lines.

“We do not agree — we strongly disagree, as a matter of fact — with the City of St. John’s approving this application,” he said.

There was one proponent of the development who spoke at the meeting, albeit it may have been an approval for what he saw as a better than the alternative scenario. Charles Snook said he would rather see this development go ahead than see low income housing go in down the road. He also praised the other condos that surround his home for being such great neighbours and highlighted that as one reason he didn’t oppose.

City staff have already said they have identified no traffic issue with the proposed development. Council will now take the concerns from the meeting and consider the rezoning change before the development goes to the next stage.