There could be a second public meeting on a contentious lounge proposal in the near future depending on the outcome of a St. John's city council vote.
Earlier this year, the owner of a property at 75 Airport Heights Drive submitted an application to the city to establish a pub and eatery — it was last used as a daycare and rezoned for that purpose in June of 2018. A pub and eatery cannot be opened at a property zoned commercial local, so the applicant requested to rezone it as commercial neighbourhood. This would also require a municipal plan amendment.
The surrounding area is largely residential, and according to a direction note included in the agenda for the Monday, Dec. 2 regular meeting of council, residents living immediately adjacent to the site have expressed some concerns about the proposal. Those concerns raised at a public meeting earlier this fall and in written submissions to the city include increased parking, noise, decreased property values, increased vandalism and litter, rodents and the potential for traffic problems in light of its proximity to a school and a seniors’ complex. An online petition initiated in August at change.org opposing the rezoning had 74 signatures as of this past weekend.
According to the note, the development would require 17 parking spaces, though the site only has 10. The city's transportation manager has also identified on-street parking available on the opposite side of Airport Heights Drive. The applicant has requested parking relief from the city.
The applicant addressed some of these concerns in an email to the city dated Oct. 16. In it, the applicant said that the business is being proposed as a site people from the neighbourhood can walk to (the direction note to council said residents have indicated there is a need for a local gathering place and there are some in the area who support it).
On the issue of rodents, the applicant said an enclosed steel garbage bin will be emptied weekly. As for noise, the plan is to have background music playing and at most a solo musical act performing live. In consulting with a number of real estate developers, the applicant said the general consensus was this project would not impact property values.
City staff recommended council adopt the necessary amendments to its municipal plan and development regulations and hold a public hearing on the proposed amendments. Council will then need to decide at a later date whether it will allow the applicant to set up a pub and eatery at the property as a discretionary use. If council adopts the resolution at Monday's meeting, the public hearing would be held Jan. 16, 2020 at 7 p.m. at city hall.