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Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says the city might reconsider giving developers the right to build without holding a public meeting.
Brown is referring to the section in a municipality’s zoning and development bylaw that provides for as-of-right development.
This comes after Brown met recently with the residents of Renaissance Place on Haviland Street who aren’t happy about a proposed eight-storey, 99-unit apartment building that is slated to be built between their building and the waterfront.
While the building is officially considered eight storeys under the zoning and development bylaw, the city's planning department does acknowledge that the plans, in fact, illustrate a 10-storey structure. The lower parking level as illustrated in the plans is not considered a storey by planning as long as it is six feet above the grade.
Brown confirmed on Tuesday he will ask the new planning committee, chaired by Coun. Mike Duffy, to review the city’s official plan. The city shuffled its standing committees with councillors assuming their new roles on Wednesday.
“That’s where I want to look at this port and waterfront zone,’’ Brown said, referring to a change that was made to the bylaw a few years ago by the previous council that gave developers an as-of-right to build in the port and waterfront zones.
Also sitting on the new planning committee will be councillors Alanna Jankov, who represents the area and has met with the residents of Renaissance Place twice, Julie McCabe, Mitchell Tweel and the mayor, who sits on all of the committees.
Even if the bylaw is changed and the as-of-right is removed, it is highly unlikely it would affect the outcome of the eight-storey apartment building. The application was filed under the bylaw that currently exists.
“If a new law comes in, that doesn’t disqualify everything that was brought to the table prior to the change,’’ the mayor said.
Pan-America Properties, in conjunction with Killam REIT, have already received approval. The process has also already passed the design review stage and a development agreement has been signed with the city.
The one avenue that is still open to residents is filing an appeal with the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission when the developer applies for a building permit. Permits can be appealed within 21 days of the application.
Louise Aalders, who lives at Renaissance Place, feels a bit more optimistic now, although she is quick to acknowledge any change might not benefit the residents of the five-storey, 42-unit building on Haviland Street.
“We have a little bit of hope that this as-of-right will be changed, which is good,’’ Aalders said, adding that the public should have a right to have input on any development. “We were happy to hear that he was considering the new planning (committee) would review it. That’s one step.’’
Arlene Mayme, who also lives in the building, said they are still trying to get a lot answers from the city, such as what happens to the boardwalk between the Culinary Institute of Canada and the Celtic cross, the impact of traffic on the area and whether heavy machinery will need the driveway to Renaissance Place to access the proposed site.
“The size of the building doesn’t fit in (with the surrounding buildings),’’ Mayme added. “Granted, something will eventually go up, but if it were, say, four or five storeys high, it would be something more in line with (our) building.’’
Tim Banks, speaking on behalf of the developers, said it's business as usual with the project, although he added that they have made some changes to the plans.
Banks said he wants to consult with a few residents at Renaissance Place before commenting further.