In a surprise twist, Charlottetown city council voted Monday in favour of a 41-unit apartment building on Pine Drive.
Council approved the request to amendments to rezone 9 Pine Dr. from single-detached residential to medium density and to amend the official plan from low density to medium density in order to consolidate it with 11 and 13 Pine Dr. in order to construct the building.
It was a surprising decision in light of the fact council was initially voting on a resolution to reject the developer’s request before that motion was defeated 5-3, forcing council to vote again on the project, this time whether it was in favour. That vote also went 5-3, again in favour of the project.
The city’s planning department recommended that council reject the developer’s request to put up the building.
Alex Forbes, manager of planning, told council that the board felt that the proposed project was smack in the middle of a primarily low density neighbourhood.
Forbes added that the project “overpowered’’ area homes.
Cain Arsenault, who works with APM, one of the developers on the project, told The Guardian projects like this one reduces the need for further urban sprawl.
“It (also) mitigates rising taxes by utilizing existing resources and increases property value by providing additional housing choices in an area dominated by older single-family homes,’’ Arsenault said following council’s decision on Monday. “These are all things that other major cities are encouraging to promote environmental and economic sustainability.’’
Tim Banks, CEO and founder of APM, said they have increased the size of the property from its original application, set back the structure from the road and staged the height of the structure to reduce the scale of the development from the neighbours.
“We’re confident that on competition and occupancy there will be a lot of people wondering why it took so long for this project to move forward, particularly with the demand on vacancy,’’ Banks said following the council meeting.
However, it wasn’t an easy decision for council. Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of the planning committee, and Coun. Terry Bernard paused before voting, both saying “this is a tough’’ one before voting against the rejection and then in favour of the project.
The proposal also faced stiff opposition from area residents.
Earlier this year, council deferred a vote on the matter, asking that the developer and residents get together in an effort to find common ground. However, Rivard said residents weren’t willing to meet with the developers unless the project was taken off the table.
Banks said Monday he is fully expects the residents will appeal council’s decision to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission but added that “we’re tired of this delay tactic so we’re proceeding as soon as possible.’’