Charlottetown council rejects request from Benevlolent Irish Society to reconsider project
© Guardian photo
Benevolent Irish Society Hall, North River Road, Charlottetown
One of the oldest organizations in Prince Edward Island appears to have lost the battle to prevent a proposed apartment building from going up next door.
Charlottetown city council rejected a request on Tuesday night from the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) to reconsider a decision it made last month to allow a variance to the front yard setback for a 15-unit dwelling at 586 North River Road. That’s right next to the BIS Hall.
The vote was 8-1 with Coun. Mitchell Tweel opposed. Tweel tried to have the matter deferred so council could meet with the BIS executive over their concerns. Coun. Danny Redmond was going to second the motion but changed his mind and the deferral was defeated on the spot.
The variance applies to the average front yard setback from 57.5 feet to about 50 feet.
According to a letter the BIS executive sent to city council, the society is concerned about events that take place at the BIS Hall annoying the neighbours, especially now that there will be an apartment building right next door.
George O’Connor, president of the BIS, preferred to keep his reaction short when reached by The Guardian on Wednesday.
“Disappointment’’ was all O’Connor would say, explaining that he wanted to talk to the executive before elaborating further.
Tweel said he’s very disappointed council wouldn’t meet with the BIS executive before making a decision on the reconsideration.
“They have been in that location for over 30 years and not one complaint. They are great neighbours, great citizens. They do a lot for this community and they represent a broad demographic in this city and this province.’’
Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of the planning committee, said people need to keep in mind council has a very specific process to follow when asked to reconsider a decision.
“We first have to determine if there is any new information that was not available at the time the decision was made and, as I pointed out (during the public council meeting) I don’t think there was,’’ Lantz said. “All of the issues raised in the request for reconsideration were issues that were raised at the time of the original application and all of council were aware of those.
“Planning (department) recommended that the variance be issued so I don’t think there was any merit to reconsider that decision.’’
Lantz added that another one of the society’s concerns is that the apartment building, once it’s built, will take away some of the visibility the BIS Hall has on North River Road.
Tweel said if the shoe were on the other foot and the BIS was looking to build next to an apartment building things would be different.
“Everyone would say this is bad planning and we’d look the other way.’’
It should be noted that the apartment building is what the city calls as “as-of-right development’’ which is a development that complies with all applicable zoning regulations and does not require any discretionary action by city planning.