After six months of waiting, residents of Niverville will soon start to see construction of the new movie sound stage on the west-end of town, however there were several hurdles to get it to this point.
At Tuesday evening’s council meeting, there was a Public Hearing for the approval of a Conditional Use permit to allow Julijette Inc. to begin construction of a high-end sound-stage warehouse in a Commercial Zone along Wallace Road on the west end of Niverville. The production company also requested a variance to allow for a building height of 50-feet.
Before it could be voted on, Niverville CAO, Eric King noted that there was a petition of opposition to the Conditional Use permit that read,
“We object that the breach of the building height in the commercial corridor to the height of 50 feet shall not be allowed in this commercial zone - 50 feet max clearing building accessories.
To put this into perspective, the average hydro pole is 40 feet tall and this is significantly higher. This will make our residential neighborhood feel more like an industrial zone.
This will also bring in other items such as light pollution, noise, and unsightly skylines to the area, just to name a few.
We as west-facing residents feel that the town shall do whatever they can to mitigate this.
This may also lead the way for other buildings to be built to this standard. Has there been any other development-plan drawings built on the acres of land that this movie industry will be developed?
We thought the intentions were to build a studio that utilizes a large screen to shoot movies rather than having to support large movie sets. So, why the need for the large warehouse? Yes, the movie industry will bring economic spinoffs to the area, but keep in mind who was here first.”
King noted that there were 9 confirmed residents and 2 unconfirmed names on the petition.
Also in attendance at the Public Hearing was Kyle Bially, a local consultant who spoke on behalf of Julijette Inc.
“On the fact of why we are requesting that height (50-feet) is because there is potential that the blue screen itself is 30 feet high and they'll need additional room for objects to be dropped down, and into the shot, from above the screen. We will also need to set up scaffolding, which means there has to be at least a 40-foot clearance height inside the building, and so, we are asking for 50-feet just in case. It's kind of crucial to the development.”
Bially addressed their choice of location for the movie soundstage, “This is at the end of the development site, situated near the billboard (Welcome to Niverville sign), which is at the edge of town, and it will forever be on the edge. So, I think this is suitable spot for a place like this.”
The location of the soundstage is one-mile past Krahn Road, at the Wallace Road/ PR311 intersection. The nearest Niverville residents live east of Krahn Road.
There was still some concern from Council regarding the potential of a large concrete structure which would be “Welcoming visitors to Niverville”. Another councilor called it a great big billboard for the town.
Deputy Mayor Chris Wiebe asked whether there would be consideration made for it to be aesthetically pleasing, to which Bially noted,
“It is a precast design, so it would be painted on the outside with some kind of design on it. So, it's not gonna be just a gawd-awful concrete structure."
Councilor Meghan Beasant noted, when she first saw the conceptual designs, she was pleased and yet concerned.
“We could have big concrete blocks, so yes, please think about the fact that while Niverville is really growing and we're all excited about it, we also really like our small-town charm feel. I'm sure you feel the same way. You will know the best way that we can try and keep that. You know is what we're all looking for.”
Deputy Mayor Wiebe called for the vote, and both the Conditional Use Permit and Variance, were unanimously approved by council.
To which Bially noted he was willing to address any concerns residents or council had going forward.
Following the council meeting, Bially addressed the fact that there has been a 6-month delay in releasing the final design plans and beginning construction of the soundstage, to which he said, there had been simple misinterpretations within Julijette Inc, and thus, also the reason he was hired as consultant.
“I would say maybe interpretations on a few parties between the entire development, so we were brought in by request, just to mitigate and figure out where the disparities were between everybody. So, we helped resolve all that and that made the biggest change on being able to progress, to better being able to ease a lot of concerns and resolve all those misunderstandings.”
Bially was not able to go into more details, other than the delay had little to do with the town of Niverville or its residents and that progress has been made and they will be able to break ground this October.
Speaking to the residents of Niverville he says,
“I'm a resident here. I've been here for 10 years. My kids have grown up here, this is their home. This is something that we do take seriously, and like I said, we'll be working on getting some more clarity to the town once development starts, to help educate everybody. But again, like I said, we want to clear up some of the misunderstandings, and then we want to progress in the best way possible. We do have few ideas in the works, but we have to get approvals from all of them to help with that. I can tell you this, the owner is very much in support of being a part of the community. So that's going to be a huge thing. She wants this just as much as the rest of us do, and she wants to do it with class and as much finesse as it can be done.”
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