The Yarmouth Food Bank opened its doors at its new location on Herbert Street Tuesday in the midst of a zoning controversy.
The facility is located in a residential area that doesn’t permit food banks, but the town’s council is discussing changing the zoning to allow it.
Stephanie Eldridge lives on Huntington Street with her 91-year-old mother. The house where the family has lived for 53 years is located behind the new food bank.
Eldridge said she doesn’t want the zoning in her neighbourhood to change.
“This fight is against the town,” said Eldridge. “We support the food bank.”
The food bank is located at 2 Herbert St., just 17 metres from Eldridge’s home, in a municipally owned building that once housed a Ben’s Bread store 20 years ago.
It serves 700 to 800 people per month.
Eldridge said she thinks the town bent the rules by allowing the food bank to open before the neighbourhood was rezoned.
“These people are saints,” Eldridge said of the food bank staff. “They know Revenue Canada has strict regulations about non-profit organizations following the law. Does it make any sense that these law-abiding people would move in and renovate almost two months before a zone change or amendment decision is made that might not go their way?”
Burned by rezoning before
Eldridge is worried about the potential impact of the food bank on her home.
The facility “effectively acts as a high-volume business that will affect half our home,” Eldridge told the town in a letter. “It will create peak periods that can run to a hundred at a time.”
Eldridge also noted the food bank’s location would involve more trucks coming in to drop off food throughout the week, which could lead to more rats.
Ideally, Eldridge said, she would like to see the food bank in an area that’s already zoned to allow it.
Eldridge said her family has been burned before by rezoning in the neighbourhood — once when a nearby restaurant got its liquor licence (the spot has since closed down) and another time when a motel was built behind their house (the motel is now an apartment complex).
The first instance, she said, led to “drunks screaming at the top of their lungs and getting into fights” near the baseball park beside her house. The motel, she said, brought up issues with “garbage control, privacy and noise.”
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