St. John’s city council deferred a proposal Tuesday night for a parking lot on Cabot Avenue that has met with strong opposition from Battery residents.
The proposed four-vehicle parking lot would serve a proposed bed and breakfast on the same avenue, but council has received two dozen submissions and petitions from residents objecting to the development — enough opposition that city staff recommended rejecting the proposal, even though a review of the application has found it doesn’t conflict with the Battery development guideline study.
“Submissions from residents in response to the public notification of the discretionary use application for the parking area are unified in stressing that the entire development, including the B&B, is not in keeping with the existing pattern of development in the Battery,” reads the report from Jason Sinyard, the city’s director of planning and development. “The planning and development division recommends council reject the subject application for the proposed parking area due to the opposition of the proposed development.”
But Coun. Wally Collins moved to defer the proposal rather than reject it, saying the developer was planning to resubmit the proposal.
Coun. Bernard Davis was one of three councillors — along with Jonathan Galgay and Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth — to vote against deferring the issue. Davis said council has all the information it needs to make a decision on the application.
“I just think we should try to deal with the issues that we have at hand,” he said. “I think we had enough information to make the decision, but obviously the developer wanted to try to bring back something new.”
Davis said he doesn’t think many of the people who submitted concerns would accept any revamped proposal the developer comes up with.
“We have to make sure we listen to their concerns as best we can, and understand we’ve got to make decisions based on the best interests of everybody involved, the entire city,” he said. “I understand that they have concerns in those areas, and sometimes those concerns are because they don’t want it in their backyard, or because there’s legitimate concerns like traffic.”
Ellsworth said people in the area clearly have problems with the proposal — a petition opposing the parking lot had almost 200 signatures.
“There’s very specific guidelines around what new development takes place, and the footprint of new development, the esthetics of new development are supposed to fit in to what’s there already,” said Ellsworth. “And from my point of view, I don’t think it did that. And I don’t think it’s fair to the residents or the proposed developer to let it drag on. I think we should deal with it and move it forward. There’s nothing stopping the developer from coming in with another proposal on another project.”