Neighbours oppose apartment project in Fredericton's Waterloo Row area
Micro Boutique spells macro problems for some people living near proposed project
Some people living in Fredericton's Waterloo Row area are raising concerns about a proposed apartment complex.
Micro Boutique Living Inc. wants to put up two buildings, with between 130 and 162 units, on a treed lot between Waterloo Row and Forest Hill Road.
"The actual building is far from micro," said Deborah Rippin, who lives across the street.
"It's huge. And they're putting it on a very small parcel of land."
Rippin, who has lived at 669 Waterloo Row for more than 20 years, is one of 28 people in the neighbourhood who are asking City Hall to take a closer look at the proposal.
"There's just a large number of reasons … why we feel this is not a benefit in this area at all," she said.
Rippin said the development will take over green space that has a stream running through it.
She worries her property and several others could become flooded with runoff.
Jane Fritz, who has lived next door for 22 years, said she's already seeing huge changes in the amount of water that flows down the stream during heavy rain.
"It comes barrelling down in torrents under the road," Fritz said, and it carries soil, rocks, garbage and even the occasional bicycle.
Larger culverts were installed under the trail and Waterloo Row a couple of years ago, but Fritz said they are already proving insufficient to handle the amount of water that comes through.
She's concerned water from the developed property could undermine the road and flood people's basements.
In terms of traffic, Rippin said, it's already a difficult task to get in or out of her driveway during the morning and evening rush hour.
Vehicles coming and going at the new development will make that even more complicated, she said.
"It's going to be all day long."
Rippen expects cars will be parking along the road or side streets because there are only 55 parking spots, enough for about a third of the units included in the building plans.
"You can't force a pedestrian lifestyle on people," she said.
"They will find other places to park."
The company behind the project already has similar buildings of furnished micro-units in the Nova Scotia towns of Wolfville and Antigonish.
Rippin said the developments seem to cater to students and tourists, and she wondered whether the new Fredericton buildings will be "glorified dorms."
"We haven't had our concerns quelled in any way," Rippin said.
There are currently no residential designations in the city to allow for this type of "micro-unit" building, and the land would need to be rezoned for the development to move ahead.
The city's planning advisory committee has recommended approval, and council is expected to hear from people who object and support the project at its public meeting Monday night.
The development fits in perfectly with the city's growth strategy, said Chris Galea, president and owner of Micro Boutique Living.
That strategy calls for more compact units and higher density developments in the city core.
Galea said an engineering firm has been hired to look at water issues and he's "confident" the concerns of neighbours can be addressed.
He said the building location has already been pushed back to leave a treed buffer 60 to 70 feet.
"We'll be keeping, we estimate, maybe even up to about half of the tree cover," Galea said.
With respect to traffic, Galea said the impact would be minimal — an increase of less than one per cent on what is already a "major arterial road."
Galea expects the units will appeal to students, as well as young professionals, single parents, university staff and empty nesters.
If approved, planning will start this fall and construction next spring.
"I absolutely believe it's a good development for Fredericton," said Galea. "I feel very confident that we will be terrific neighbours."