Holly Arsenault shows the property line dividing her land from that of a developer whose potential project leaves many on Fifth Avenue North in Roxboro unhappy. Chronicle, Raffy Boudjikanian.
Even as some residents of Fifth Avenue North in Roxboro, a dead-end street lined with single-unit bungalows, are concerned over the possible development of a multiple-storey condo at the end of their street, Pierrefonds officials at a lively public meeting last Wednesday night were at pains to explain nothing could move ahead yet. "Before the project can be accepted or acceptable, the developer must present plans that conform to our legislation. For now, that isn't the case yet," said Pierre Rochon, urban planning and business services department director, in answer to citizen questions. However, residents are concerned after seeing land surveyors walk into the swampy wooded area over the last few weeks. Holly Arsenault, who lives in a home right on the property line of the area, even said one of them told her the owner, Jacob Wolofsky, has already acquired all necessary permits and construction will begin in February. "If that's true, he's dreaming in colour," Rochon replied. When The Chronicle went to visit the street last Thursday, Arsenault showed a row of rocks that separates her yard from Wolofsky's property. Planted alongside both sides of that makeshift border are 45 trees, which Arsenault said play a large role in keeping her home from flooding when nearby Rivière des Prairies rises in the spring. "He said he's going to cut them down," Arsenault said, adding about half of them are on the developer's side. Another Fifth Avenue North resident, France Marsant, voiced her displeasure at the Wednesday meeting too. "Our street had a very peaceful, very calm character," she said. "We find it unthinkable to have a big block of eight floors on the street, which could lead to 300 cars going into the street by the summer." Borough Mayor Monique Worth insisted Pierrefonds was doing all in its power to ensure legal norms force the developer to create a reasonable project. "Our norms are getting higher and higher," she said. Rochon said previous bylaws allowed a 12-storey high project on the site, but the borough's revisions have already cut that size down to eight. At least one resident of the street was skeptical anything could be built at all. "I wouldn't even invest a cent into that land, it's a swamp," said Michel Davuluy, who has been living there for several years. After the meeting, Worth conceded the city of Montreal would, in an ideal world, like to buy up that land and turn into green space. "I think, in a way, we would like it to be a part of green space that would start, let's say, west of the Rapides du Cheval Blanc and end with that piece of property," Worth said. "But we can't force him to sell at a lower price because we would like to. It's up to him, it's his decision," she said. Though the land is valuated at about $188,000, a purchase by Montreal would cost millions because it is a public body, Worth said. Montreal had a right of expropriation on the property in question up to last May, but did not renew it after it expired, Marsant mentioned at the meeting. Wolofsky did not return calls for comment.