Construction on 'The Crossing' project could start this spring
Company wants to begin work on access road onto the property
The Northrup Group would like to start work this spring on the proposed commercial residential project alongside the Saint John throughway.
Dubbed "The Crossing", the project, if developed as proposed, would include stores, restaurants, warehouses, office space and gas stations.
Access would be via a new road opposite the intersection at the end of Rothesay Avenue or via Ashburn Road.
"It is proposed the construction would commence during the Spring of 2017 with the construction of the main access road," states the Environmental Impact Assessment document the company has filed with the New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government.
"The initial construction process, site preparation, will involve tree removal, limited [clearing], laydown of geotextile material."
The project proposal shows 60,000 square metres of new building construction spread across 120 acres (49 hectares) on the north side of the throughway.
A stream, Little Marsh Creek, meanders through the property and part of the development area is wetland.
"The banks of Little Marsh Creek will be expanded to create an Urban Wetland through the commercial site," said the document. "The added material will be made up of soils from the site to allow for revegetation with appropriate and available plants consistent with the existing wetland."
It goes on to say stormwater models show there will be no negative effect on flooding in the Marsh Creek Watershed.
Full assessment needed
East Saint John environmental activist, Gordon Dalzell is skeptical about that claim.
Flooding is already a frequent occurrence along the banks of the Marsh Creek in nearby areas like the Glen Falls subdivision and on McAllister Drive.
"The idea that the proponent is suggesting a spring startup is just totally unacceptable, when you look at this report there's so many different impacts."
Dalzell also doubts retail, office and residential elements of the project are viable.
He said it's possible the development could end up being limited to a large gas station convenience store type project aimed at traffic on the four-lane throughway.
"You may just get certain elements, the big commercial highway services they call it," said Dalzell. "You may get that type of development, some truck stop, another big stop like Salisbury has. There may be that type of development, but I'm not sure the conditions are going to warrant, [that] we'll ever see any further development."
Elizabeth McGahan has lived on Rothesay Road near the proposed development for the past 30 years.
She watches every year as lower level properties in the area flood, including the Rothesay Avenue underpass next to the planned intersection to the development.
"They flood with regularity every spring," said McGahan. "It is every year, it's just a matter of how bad it is."
A spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Local Government said following the EIA process the minister has the option to allow the project to proceed subject to conditions, can "deny the project with the assent of the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council, or; require a comprehensive review to assess the nature and significance of the potential impacts."
A spokesperson for the city said the project will not proceed until the developers satisfy a number of conditions including a traffic impact study, servicing study, and a stormwater management study.
A certificate of determination will also have to be obtained from the New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government.
A spokesperson for the Northrup Group was not available for comment Thursday.