A vacant property across from the Summerside boardwalk could soon be rezoned to allow for apartment buildings.
The rezoning application was presented to Summerside's council during a special meeting on May 20, held via video conference, on behalf of the city's economic development department. The property in question is located between Water Street and South Drive.
Mike Thususka, the department's director, said the purpose of the rezoning is, in part, to better enable developers to build on what the department has deemed highly developable land around Summerside.
"That could bring significant value and appeal to the overall city," he said.
Under its current zoning, medium density residential (R3), the property could allow for about 42 townhouse-style units. The application requests it be rezoned to high-density residential (R4), which would allow for taller apartment buildings.
A proposal to develop three apartment buildings and a number of houses on this property – totaling 198 units – has already been received from a "reputable" developer and is being reviewed, Thususka said.
One reason Thususka's department wants to enable apartment development over smaller unit development is that it means less sprawling out across the city, therefore fewer roads and road maintenance, he said.
"Having a higher density allows us to maximize our infrastructure."
Council declared the zoning amendment to have been read a first time. It will be referred back to the city's planning board for review and recommendation.
The meeting was open to the public with COVID-19 health measures in place. No residents attended in person, but Coun. Brian McFeely read two emails sent in on the topic.
One was from a woman who has lived near the property in question for 32 years. She's against the rezoning because of how it could affect the property's ecosystem, which includes a running stream, she said.
As well, she doesn't think high-density housing would look good in that part of Summerside.
"Big apartments, I think, do nothing to make our city look pretty," the email read.
Thususka assured that the proposal being reviewed has taken these environmental elements into account, he said.
Here are a few Summerside landmarks that are located on the property in question or nearby:
- Highland Bottle & Metal Exchange
- Community Connections
- Green's Shore Park
- Sunny's Dairy Bar
A representative of Highland Bottle & Metal Exchange, which is located on the same plot of land, wrote an email stating the company was neutral toward the rezoning. However, the business warned that its industrial operations can be noisy, which may not be appealing for residents to live beside.
"Scrap metal facilities don't receive awards for serene, tranquil environments," the email read.
Daniel Brown is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.