New West Highlands site to be rezoned
Amherst has begun the process to rezone the properties that will be used for the new West Highlands Elementary School.
AMHERST – Amherst has begun clearing the way for construction of the new West Highlands Elementary.
The town’s director of planning Jason MacDonald said council will soon be reconsidering changes to its land-use bylaw to rezone several properties from residential to institutional in preparation for the school.
MacDonald said the province has already announced the new school will be built on the Lions Park and Lion Cecil Small Ballpark along with the Cornwall Avenue tennis courts. Also included are portions of Cornwall Avenue and Victor Street.
“The subject properties are designated residential in the municipal planning strategy and contain a mixture of zoning including general residential, open space and institutional,” MacDonald told council during its April committee-of-the-whole meeting last night. “In order to accommodate the new school, all properties must be zoned institutional.”
The school is supposed to be ready for occupancy by September 2014.
MacDonald said a public meeting was held on April 8 with 15 people in attendance. He said everyone was supportive of the school project, but concerns were raised with the potential closure of Victor Avenue.
He said he has been talking to officials with Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and told council every effort is being made in the design process to avoid the need to use Victor Street.
“If they do not use it, we can keep it,” MacDonald told council.
MacDonald said he will begin the process to close Cornwall Avenue as early as next month.
No firm timeline has been set for the start of construction, although he said it’s possible work could begin as early as June on parts of the property.
Deputy Mayor George Baker expressed concern that there has yet to be discussion on potential school enhancements and suggested the town should contact the province to determine the process for requesting a larger gymnasium or cafeteria.
When Spring Street Academy was built in 2005, the community and PolyCello put up $330,000 for a larger gymnasium. Baker wants to know the requirements now so the town isn’t surprised later in the process.