By Amy Woolvett
THE COAST GUARD
A local business owner is disappointed his proposal to build apartments in Shelburne isn’t even getting off the ground.
Bill Chidiac approached council’s committee of the whole meeting in June with his dream to build an apartment complex with anywhere from 20 to 30 units.
He owns a 2.6-acre corner lot that runs from Cornwallis Street to Clement Street and Minto Street to Big Rock Road in Shelburne.
“It seemed to me on that particular day it was in everyone’s favour,” said Chidiac.
After Chidiac’s presentation, Chief Administrative Officer Dylan Heide was instructed by council to find out what he could about whether or not the project would be possible.
Town bylaws state that apartment buildings greater than six units are not permitted on Cornwallis Street between Minto and Aberdeen Streets.
There were other streets in Shelburne that were already approved for a project of this size.
“The only thing we could do was to add his street to the approved list,” said Heide.
Council called a reading of the Municipal Planing Strategy and Land Use By-Law Amendments with regards to permitting apartment buildings of six or more units on Cornwallis Street.
It was at the second reading and during a public hearing that the residents in the vicinity of the proposed site showed up to voice their unanimous opposition to apartments being built on their street.
“Increased traffic to the area was the biggest issue,” said Heide.
The town was not discussing the actual project being proposed, but were focused on changing the rules that apartments be allowed.
There were 16 residents that showed their opposition, either verbally or in writing to the town.
When it was put to a vote four councilors opposed the change and one councilor was for it.
“Council might have liked to see the apartments built but they couldn’t go against what they heard from the public,” said Heide.
Heide said that some of the residents were worried the plan had no specifics or limitations and would allow anything up to a high rise apartment building to be constructed.
Chidiac said he was not sure why the public voted against it.
“Maybe they did not get the right information,” he said. “If they had, they would not have voted against it,” he said. “I want them to be happy with their neighbourhood because it is my neighbourhood too.”
Instead he is hoping to approach council on opening up the road on a different point of entry to his property on Big Rock Road.
Chidiac explained that this was a project he has been dreaming about and planning for a few years.
“There are 300 jobs coming to Shelburne,” he said. “Where are these people going to live?”
His apartment structure will be aimed at medium to high-end units, with added amenities not found in Shelburne.
“I could decide to build in the Municipality of Shelburne and pay half of the taxes,” he said. “But I want to build in the community I live in.”
He said he has struggled as a business owner of a local pizzeria with the ups and downs of Shelburne’s economy, which has included the loss of the former navy base and boy’s school.
“We pay so much in taxes,” he said. “The town says that we need more businesses to offset taxes and here was an opportunity to lower everyone’s taxes…why not let this community move on and grow for our kids.”
Chidiac wants to invest every cent he has managed to save over the 17 years as a business owner into the project as well as use the capitol he can borrow off of his business and home.
“I don’t have deep pockets…I’m taking a big chance and have everything to lose,” he said. “The community of Shelburne has nothing to lose but everything to gain.”
He hoped that there were more people in the community in support of the apartment complex project.
“I would like to hear from the community if anyone thinks I shouldn’t build it or if people are in support of the project,” he said.