With just weeks to go before a civic election, municipal councillors in Chelsea, Que., have a tough choice to make about a proposed hotel.
Nordik Group, which owns the popular Nordik Spa-Nature, plans to build a hotel with 60 rooms on the site. But the company’s preferred design would require council to allow a bigger, taller building than is permitted under the existing regulations.
The proposal was first revealed to the general public at a meeting of Chelsea’s planning committee in early September. The council vote is expected Oct. 2.
Vote too soon, residents say
That’s too soon, according to some residents.
“I think most of us heard about it last night on Facebook,” said resident Andy Ball on Tuesday. “I don’t think there’s enough consideration given to residents as to how to shape their own village.”
Development is a contentious issue in Chelsea. Residents expect hundreds of new homes will spring up following the recent installation of new water and sewer infrastructure, and many fear the loss of the community’s rural character.
Giving an exemption to one developer could pave the way for others, Ball said, with the result that Chelsea eventually becomes “yet another suburb.”
With an election looming, at least one municipal councillor would also prefer to put off the decision.
“The current council is a bit of a lame duck council,” said Coun. Barbara Martin. “I personally don’t think we should be taking important decisions that have an impact on the future of Chelsea at this time.”
Good design impossible under current rules: CEO
If councillors don’t approve the minor variance next week, it’ll be a “bad project,” said Nordik Group CEO Martin Paquette.
The municipality’s current bylaws disallow buildings higher than 12 metres, and the area cannot exceed 1,500 square metres. To build the hotel in a way that abides by the rules would require three two-storey buildings, said Paquette, because a hotel of fewer than 60 rooms would not be financially viable for the company.
More than 200 trees would have to be removed, and because of topography, the buildings would be built about 60 metres from the spa complex, in a spot close to Old Chelsea Road — and be much more visible to those arriving in the community.