Tim Banks said Thursday he will appeal council’s decision to vote down his proposal for 55 and 59 Richmond St. to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.
“We have no choice but to appeal to IRAC, and you only have to look at the last order against the city on the Hanmac appeal (townhouses next to Belvedere Golf Course) to full understand how far off the mark council can be and the way they operate,’’ Banks told The Guardian.
Council voted 6-4 (voting to reject were councillors Mitchell Tweel, Mike Duffy, Terry Bernard, Melissa Hilton, Kevin Ramsay and Eddie Rice) at its monthly meeting Monday to reject going to a public meeting for a site amendment to the downtown neighbourhood zone, which would have included a minor variance to reduce the minimum frontage from 82 feet to 74.5 feet and a major variance to reduce the minimum grade level height from 13 feet to 9.5 feet in order to permit a four storey, 23-unit apartment building.
At the meeting, councillors relayed concerns that included unharmonious development and a lack of on-site parking. For example, there were going to be 12 inches between the patios on the proposed building that Banks wants to put and the existing apartment building next to it.
Banks said the rejection shows a “lack of leadership on the part of the mayor (Clifford Lee) who publicly speaks in favour of affordable housing, but when a legitimate affordable housing development like ours is in front of council he goes quiet instead of openly speaking at council in support of our project.’’
The developer notes the vacancy rate in downtown Charlottetown is at an all-time low and the dollar value of building permits in the downtown core is the lowest in the last 20 years while other regional cities are experiencing a boom.
“Council stated the reason they rejected this affordable housing project was that it was an unharmonious development in the neighbourhood, in effect saying ‘we shouldn’t let average people rent next door to rich condo owners’ and we don’t accept that as a legitimate reason to reject our development.’’
Banks, who initially pulled the application before resubmitting it, said planning board recommended on both occasions that council should approve the project.
“But, again, six members of council subscribed to the notion that rich condo owners shouldn’t have to put up with the average citizen looking to live affordably in our downtown.
“We have a great city with a great opportunity to grow and we don’t accept that affordable housing for young professionals and seniors shouldn’t be allowed to flourish.’’