Neill family's farmland will be developed for housing
By HEATHER MCLAUGHLIN
Published Thursday August 16th, 2007
Appeared on page A1
Historic Neill farm in Devon, which for generations was a family-run dairy operation, will be gradually developed for housing over the next eight years.
James Realty -- composed of partners Jim Davis, Jim Yerxa and Jim Martin -- has a development agreement with the family to transform the city's last piece of idyllic farmland into mixed-use housing.
Six hectares, or 15 acres, around the original family homestead, including the barns, is not scheduled for development, Martin told the city's planning advisory committee Wednesday night.
Ron and Albert Neill are fourth-generation descendents of the first Neill to emigrate to New Brunswick from Scotland in 1840, making their farm one of the oldest in the St. John River Valley.
While the two brothers have been loathe to call it quits to farming, the younger generation of Neills have pursued interests other than farming and the Neills are getting on in years.
The Neills in 2006 sold a right-of-way to the city to build a street across a portion of their land to provide access to the proposed fire station on Cliffe Street, but vowed to keep farming for as long as they could.
They've already donated nearly 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres) of land for a city park and another five hectares (about 13 acres) will be used to create a storm water management pond, green space, cycling and walkways.
Martin said that leaves nearly 33 hectares (82 acres) of the family's 44-hectare (110-acre) farm available for creation of single-family housing, townhouses and other types of residential development.
The development will unfold in four phases, starting at Cliffe Street and progressing from west to east, Martin said.
The first phase will be 48 lots, mostly single-family residences, developed along an extension of Hillcrest Drive.
However, some of the land closer to Cliffe Street will be R-5 and R-6 zones, which allow for higher density uses such as townhouses or apartments.
The first phase is estimated to bring $15 million of new residential construction to the city.
Martin said construction will start this fall, with the first of 48 lots ready for sale by Jan. 15.
Barbara Blizzard of Forbes Street questioned the subdivision layout and what might end up behind her residential home, but assistant director of development services Alex Forbes said that end of the street will have single-family housing.
While that project was clear sailing for the planning advisory committee and goes forward to city council with a positive recommendation, another project was a bit more complex.
Planning advisory committee member Dan Koncz had to step aside from his duties to present a zoning plan of his own.
Koncz's company, Skyline Building Management Ltd., is purchasing an existing bachelor-style apartment building at 242 Regent St.
Developed a number of years ago by Frank Good, the property has a long record of ongoing legal issues and complaints related to building-code infractions.
Koncz purchased the building and plans to keep the property at 20 units, but bring it up to appropriate building codes.
"I want a safe building for my tenants," Koncz told the committee members.
The building has been the subject of a 15-year battle between the city and the previous owner.
Staff weren't going to support the project, but Coun. Marilyn Kerton said it's not fair to hold the past against a new developer.
"Our issues were with the previous owner," she said.
"He is somebody who wants to bring the property into conformity," agreed Coun. Bruce Grandy.
The number of units in the building will stay at 20, but will be reconfigured to meet National Building Code standards. The site has room for 11 cars, but should have parking stalls for 15.
The existing property has a parking shortfall, but since it's located downtown within walking distance to shops and a grocery store, committee member Zona Bovingdon said the parking deficiency shouldn't be a problem.
The building will have 18 bachelor units and two one-bedroom units.
[Some great unbiased reporting here....I guess if they had their way it would remain a vacant lot for all eternity....]
City annexes former Irving gas station land; now responsible for site cleanup
Decision | Irving says expropriation of one of the two sites on Cliffe Street not fair and unnecessary
By HEATHER MCLAUGHLIN
Published Thursday August 16th, 2007
Appeared on page A4
The City of Fredericton will move to acquire two pieces of property on Cliffe Street that are owned by Irving companies.
The city and Irving Oil Ltd. clashed on one of the two proposed expropriations.
Both sides attended a hearing before the province's expropriations advisory officer John Larlee on the expropriation of 96 Cliffe St., a former service station site.
Irving Oil Ltd. argued the intended expropriation of its property would cause injurious affection as a result of the reduction in market value, that the expropriation wasn't fair and unnecessary, and that proceedings were initiated while negotiations were underway.
During the hearing, it was determined by a provincial expropriations advisory officer that the expropriation is necessary for the construction of a road system required once the northeast Westmorland Street Bridge ramp -- currently under construction -- is opened.
Irving Oil argued that since the property is a former gasoline station, it has a reasonable probability of contamination.
"There should be no distinction made between contamination cleanup costs and removal of structures or infrastructures," the company argued.
The company said it shouldn't have to be involved in property remediation for any site contamination once the city acquires the land because it then loses control over the method and costs of the cleanup.
Irving Oil argued the city should expropriate all the property on an as-is, where-is basis and become responsible for remediation of any contamination caused by the property's former use as a service station.
Larlee agreed and ruled that while the city's expropriation is fair and could proceed, he also agreed with Irving Oil that the city should acquire the entire property.
Larlee said the city will have to comply with applicable provincial legislation during the cleanup process.
Meanwhile, the city has served notice to Brunswick News Inc. of its intention to expropriate land at 74 Cliffe St.
The Irving-owned company has not filed an objection to the expropriation, but the two sides haven't been able to agree on a price.
The next step in the expropriation is for the city and company to await a final market value appraisal of the property from a third-party real estate appraiser.
Transportation committee chairman Coun. Mike O'Brien said both pieces of land are vital to the city's plan to reconfigure its street system in the Union and Cliffe streets area to accommodate traffic from the Westmorland Street Bridge ramp.