The conversion of a single-family dwelling into a multiple-unit residence went before Stellarton’s town council on Monday with a concerned neighbour arguing against the development.
Council decided at its March 12 meeting to accept a recommendation to approve the conversion of the single-family dwelling into three separate apartments, owned by Melanie Roberts. This motion that was approved by all members except Coun. Bryan Knight.
Roland Burek, a contractual planner with the Town of Stellarton, recommended that council approve the application for redevelopment of the property at 37 Acadia Ave. – a process requiring an inspection to ensure the building and apartments are in accordance with building codes.
The building has already been converted into three apartments – and that fact had one neighbour very upset. In steadfast opposition to the approval of the conversion was Julie Wynands, a resident from an adjacent property on Stellar Street.
Wynands said the home next door to hers was also converted into a multi-dwelling residence, and that after the original owner died, subsequent owners were neglectful, leading to property devaluations and numerous issues with tenants, unsightliness and neglect.
Wynands said she is worried the same problems will arise if the conversion of 37 Acadia Ave. to a multi-family dwelling is approved.
“The house next door to us was originally turned into four apartments, and that was well looked after. The owner at the time died… the house was sold, and from then on, it’s been a downward slide,” sand Wynands. “Our greatest fear is that it will end up like that too.
“I know Mrs. Roberts is thinking she’s going to be the best landlord and will have the best tenants on the face of the planet, but it’s not going to happen,” said Wynands, who told council she is concerned another conversion in the area would detract from her own home’s property values, and from her quality of life.
Wynands is worried there will be issues with the tenants and that the property would eventually become unsightly and dangerous. Her other concerns included a lack of parking space, and a lack of proper egress for each apartment in the building.
“Someone pointed out that I’m not a neighbour – I am. I walk out my back door or look out the kitchen window, and that house is right here,” said Wynands. “This is my neighbourhood, and I want to live in a safe neighbourhood. I don’t see how you’re going to squeeze three apartments into that small house.”
Coun. Knight also was vocal about his disapproval of converting the property. He called it impractical and dangerous to have three apartments in a building that size.
“I don’t want to put people in a place I wouldn’t live in myself,” said Roberts, who maintained that there was enough room in the building to accommodate three separate suites.
Roberts vouched for her tenants, stating that they are responsible long-term renters. She told council that the building already was converted into apartments when she bought it in 2016.
“I did nothing but improvements. I know the place (Wynands) was talking about – I went over there and told them to clean it up, or I’d report it,” said Roberts, referring to the home that was converted to a four-unit apartment building next door to Wynands’ residence.
Roberts told council that she also has owned another building in town for six years, and has improved it as well.
“I have no issues with my tenants. The place is not dirty – I tell people when it’s garbage day. I’ve washed the siding so it looks nicer, and replaced the roof,” said Roberts. “I’m trying to improve things. I don’t want to be a slumlord – that’s not my goal.”