Souris Town Councillor Frankie Chaisson, right, poses a question to Andrew MacCormack, development representative, during a public meeting on rezoning a residential lot to commercial on Belle Avenue. Charlotte MacAulay photo

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Residents who attended a rezoning meeting in Souris last week had more concerns about a potential development on existing commercial property than about the rezoning of an adjacent residential lot.

Joan Fraser lives behind the existing Robin’s Donuts which is located on the property in question.

“When I sit at the kitchen table in the morning I see nothing but garbage flying around, especially if it is windy,” Ms Fraser said.

She takes issue with the location of the business’s garbage cans and wanted to know if there will be a fence around the property.

Both Ms Fraser and another area resident Julie Conway are concerned over a small piece of land behind all the properties where garbage and weeds accumulate.

Ms Conway currently tries to keep the area clean so the debris will stay off her own property and she is looking for assurances the new development will eliminate the need for that.

Landfest is the development company requesting the zoning change from residential to commercial on a property on Belle Avenue which is beside the Robin’s on Main Street.

Andrew MacCormack represented the company at the meeting held on February 10.

“Obviously we can only control our own property and hopefully by turning (the back portion of the lot) into a nicely paved well manicured parking area it would deter people from using it (as a dump),” Mr MacCormack said.

He showed residents a preliminary conceptual drawing of what they expect to build.

“The main reason why the property we are looking to rezone came into context is not because of the building,” Mr MacCormack said. “It is for the parking.”

Ms Conway and Frank Ahlering both operate businesses on Belle Avenue. Both are concerned with having the rezoned area made into a parking lot entrance and exit.

“I have issue with that because I have a business in my home and it is going to make that street extra busy,” Ms Conway said.

Mr Ahlering said the street can’t take any more congestion.

The proposed entrance to the development on Belle Avenue is across the street from the existing entrance to his accommodation business.

“That is a lot of traffic ... and serious for this little street, so I am against it of course,” Mr Ahlering said.

The rezoning is just the first step necessary to bring the project to fruition.

The company must apply to the town for a development permit and at that time will have a more detailed plan. This will answer many of the questions and concerns raised at the meeting.

“We haven’t confirmed anything with reference to layout,” Mr MacCormack said.

“It is where people live so you can’t discount anything.”

With the potential to purchase the property the developer plans to demolish the existing Robin’s building, which is 2,000 square feet and build a 6,000 square foot facility to house a Robin’s kiosk and another yet-to-be-determined retail business.

Mr MacCormack would neither confirm nor deny the development would be a pharmacy although he briefly mentioned it at the meeting.

Souris Town Council passed the first reading of the rezoning motion on February 11. There was no discussion on the motion.

The motion will go through a second reading before council votes. That can take place at the March meeting of council or a special meeting could be called if they want the decision to be made sooner.

Councillor Ian MacDonald suggested the town contact Landfest to find out their timeline before council makes a decision on when to vote.

When asked if the project will go ahead with or without the rezoning of the extra land, Mr MacCormack said it would be very difficult.

“We wouldn’t spend the money on that extra property if we didn’t need it,” he said.

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