Apartment building will add value to Fairbank property says owner



The owner of Sunnyside says a new apartment building will add value to the iconic Petrolia property.

David Burnie spoke with The Independent recently about his plans to build a 16-unit building between Sunnyside – also known as Fairbank House – and the Tank Street apartments.

Burnie of Kalamazoo, Michigan has filed papers with the Town of Petrolia for a minor variance to the town’s planning bylaw. It allows just one main building on a residential property. Burnie wants approval to build the second.

Drawings provided by Burnie to Lambton County planner show what Burnie tells The Independent will be a 16-unit building on the west side of the historic home with a parking lot for 24-cars behind it.

The building has a footprint of 542 square metres – larger than the Fairbank House by 75 square metres

The town’s Chief Administrative Officer has voiced a number of technical concerns about the plan. Manny Baron says the driveway for the apartment building would be off Petrolia Line and on a relatively steep angle near the corner of Tank, creating traffic flow difficulties.  He’s also concerned the original drawings show only one exit from the property.

Burnie doesn’t think the driveway is an issue. “It is right next to the driveway in the building beside it,” he notes.

The municipality’s planner, Rob Nesbitt from the County of Lambton, is looking at the application now and will outline his concerns to the Committee of Adjustment which meets Dec. 7 in the council chambers.

But aside from the planning issues, Baron admits his “personal concern” is the optics of a property owner building a brand new building while the current home is in obvious need of work.

Burnie addressed that concern saying “the building already there is quite a different structure and it doesn’t suit the same purpose.”

And he disputes the idea the building is in disrepair. “There is work being done on the building; its in use and  (repairs) will continue to be done. Burnie wouldn’t elaborate how the building is in use saying he doesn’t “want to get into” whether someone is living at Fairbank House.

Burnie believes the apartment will be a good fit on the property. “I think in terms of the property it would add value to the property, add value to the town and be a useful thing to do.”

He adds the research he has done shows some need in the community for apartments although “it is hard to get the data” to show that need.

McCharles is hopeful that the process will deal with any concerns council and community might have about the plans for the historic property. Residents are welcome to “suggest things to change” at the Committee of Adjustment hearing.



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