© Guardian photo
More people may be moving in next to the BioVectra chemical plant as a developer goes ahead with plans to build two more apartment buildings on neighbouring land.
The new development comes on the heels of an Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission appeal BioVectra launched to have the city’s decision to grant a permit for construction of an apartment building next to the plant in West Royalty reversed.
Coun. Rob Lantz is Charlottetown’s planning and heritage committee chair and confirmed a developer is going through the process of getting the permits needed for two more buildings near the plant.
“They initially had a plan for more than one unit,” he said.
After months of proceedings, IRAC ruled against BioVectra because it said the city followed all the proper procedures and code guidelines in granting the permit, but also criticized the city for not taking public safety issues into consideration throughout the approval process.
Throughout the proceedings BioVectra said the plant was safe, but having an apartment building about 25 metres away put residents at an unnecessary risk if there is an accident.
The company’s president Ron Keefe even went as far as to compare it to building a prison next to an elementary school.
And although it did not have the proper occupancy permit, the developer rented apartments in the building while the proceedings were underway, which led to the city telling residents they were living there at their own risk.
But with the latest development, Lantz said IRAC found the city followed the rules in granting a building permit the first time and will have to again.
“There’s not really any grounds for us to deny one,” he said.
Lantz said there is no chance the city will rezone the area because of the IRAC ruling and he added the city thinks the commission made a lot of contradictory statements.
“We really really believe they overstepped their bounds in some of the criticisms and in many cases it doesn’t make much sense, but they have put us in a bit of a predicament because we have to go in order not to be subject to further appeals, we’re going to have to go above and beyond perhaps some of the health and safety considerations on these next two buildings.”
The developer has agreed to a risk assessment report and an emergency response plan, which would clear the way for their building permits, he said.
Lantz said the developer has the right to build next to the BioVectra plant because it fits into the permitted use for the property and the city has to follow established bylaws.
“We don’t use arbitrary discretion when we approve things.”
He added Paramount Construction should have all the permits it needs before the end of the month, including the occupancy permit for the existing building.
Mervin Jay of Paramount Construction was contacted but declined to comment and attempts were made to reach BioVectra president Ron Keefe, but were unsuccessful.