ST. PAUL - A public hearing on May 5 included a variety of voices, speaking for and against the proposed rezoning of a piece of residential land to commercial on the edge of the Town of St. Paul.
Following a handful of speakers, including some opposed to the rezoning and the business owner who was hoping to rezone the parcel of land, Town of St. Paul council did not approve second reading of the bylaw, therefore defeating the rezoning. As a result, no third reading of the bylaw took place.
During the meeting, it was noted that over 40 letters had been received by the Town of St. Paul in response to the proposed bylaw amendment that would have allowed for about four acres of land on the west end of St. Paul to be rezoned from Residential Medium Density District to General Commercial District (C2).
The land in question is located near existing business, Kal-Tire. Manager of Kal-Tire, Terry Allen, explained at a previous meeting that he made an offer to purchase the adjacent property with the intention of expanding his current operation. But, before the purchase was official, a condition to have a portion of the property rezoned as commercial was put on the offer.
The Town of St. Paul was required to notify adjacent landowners of the proposed rezoning, which normally would have meant about six letters would be sent out. Instead, the Town chose to mail about 30 letters to other residents in the area.
The purpose of last week's public hearing was to gather feedback on the issue and allow for public input.
"We did our best to try to make sure everybody was acknowledged," said Aline Brousseau, Director of Planning and Legislative Services with the Town of St. Paul.
Town of St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller noted that a number of the letters opposed to the rezoning expressed concern over the notion that an auto wreckage would be created on the property.
Brousseau confirmed that an auto wreckage would not be allowed under the C2 zoning, and any application under that zoning for an auto wreckage would be refused.
Linda Sallstrom, economic development officer with the newly established STEP Alliance, spoke briefly, stating the organization was in favour of the rezoning and felt it supported the opportunity for growth as the community has known it.
Kevin Haldane, Dentons LLP, spoke on behalf of Cecilia Lavoie, Michael Lavoie Professional Corporation. Haldane noted that his clients owned land in the area of the proposed rezoning. As a planning lawyer, he expressed specific concern over the fact that the property would only partially be rezoned as commercial, and a residence was located at the front of the property, which runs along Highway 29.
He described this as "piecemeal" development, and didn't support it.
Haldane noted that while the municipality wasn't yet at the stage where a specific use was being decided for the land, there was clearly a perception in the public about a potential auto wreckage facility. He encouraged the Town to keep its municipal plan in mind when making its decision.
He also brought up issues around a slough in the area and surface water drainage that needs to be addressed.
"It would be nice to have a plan," said Haldane.
Allen also spoke during the public hearing, and said he looked at all the submissions that were sent in.
He explained that when the process started, the idea of an auto wreckage was talked about.
"We shelved that idea, right off the top," said Allen.
He also said there was a perception the property goes farther back than it actually does. Allen explained that the property only goes south to 48th Avenue. He also said there would be no heavy trucks entering the Spring Creek subdivision and noted he had no intention of buy additional property in the area.
The business as it is, has simply run out of room to operate, said Allen, who is wanting to expand the services offered at the automotive shop.
"I'm here to work with the Town."
He stated he would be willing to put up a privacy fence, and would follow regular business hours. He also said he is willing to work with the Town in regards to water issues that may exist.
During further discussions, Allen pointed out that Kal-Tire was established in the area before some of the nearby homes were even built.
When explaining the process of rezoning, Miller said there were some residents who questioned why the Town approved first reading of the bylaw amendment. She noted that first reading of a bylaw simply gets the process going, which ultimately leads to the opportunity for public input. She stated that at the time of first reading, council was already aware that an auto wreckage was not a permitted use in the C2 zone.
The public hearing lasted about an hour, and was closed at 7:13 p.m. Council denied second reading of the bylaw immediately after the public hearing.
In the letters, the County of St. Paul expressed its support for the rezoning, saying "it would align with the land use proposed in the Intermunicipal Development Plan between the County and Town of St. Paul having Highway Commercial development along Highway 29." The letter from the County was signed by CAO Sheila Kitz.
Other letters spoke in favour and noted the expansion of a business would be a benefit to the whole community.
The majority of the letters though were from area residents opposed to the rezoning, expressing concerns about increased heavy truck traffic, environmental issues, and a negative impact to the aesthetics of the area. The letters were not read out loud during the meeting, but were included in the agenda package for the public hearing.