Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says he wouldn’t mind having another look at the permitted uses for waterfront property.
The mayor and some members of council have been taking some heat lately after the media recently reported developer Tim Banks plans to construct a $30-million, eight-storey apartment building on a vacant lot between Renaissance Place on Haviland Street and the water.
“I have been asked by neighbours and I have received emails," Brown said, referring to complaints about the project.
“Maybe it’s time for us to step up and look at this (as far as the) waterfront and port zoning."
The waterfront and port zones used to fall under what was called the comprehensive development area, meaning that a public meeting was held before council would make a decision on the proposal. However, the city had various consultants take a look at things and a new bylaw was introduced in 2012.
One of the goals of the new bylaw was to give development a more esthetically pleasing look. It also set minimum (32.3 feet) and maximum (80.4 feet) height requirements. Developers get bonus points if they can provide more density with their properties and those points can be used to make the building higher. Projects also have to meet rising sea level targets so buildings, such as the one Banks is building, will design the first and second levels as flood-mitigation areas, such as parking. That’s what was done with condominiums at Paoli’s Wharf, next to the Queen Charlotte Armouries, in 2003.
And, the new zoning rules give developers an as-of-right to build, meaning no public meeting is necessary before council makes a decision. The projects do have to go through design review, to make sure the building fits esthetically with the surrounding neighbourhood. Banks’ project has already passed that process although a building permit has not been issued yet.
Anyone can appeal a building permit once it has been issued but must do so within 21 days. The city posts building permits on its website regularly.
But appealing a project, such as the one Banks plans, won’t be easy.
“In this kind of situation, to appeal ... you’re climbing a steep hill because of the safeguard of as-of-right," the mayor said.
Brown added the Haviland Street project didn’t just come out of thin air. It’s been in the works for about two years and there were stories about it in the media last year.
Coun. Alanna Jankov, who represents the area on council, said she has heard some concerns from residents about the project but pointed out a previous council established the rules.
“The silver lining in this is that we have 99 units being added to our city for long-term housing," Jankov said.
“Considering we are in a housing crisis, any time we can add units to our housing stock in Charlottetown, it is a good thing."
Coun. Mitchell Tweel, who was on council in 2012 when the new rules were passed and who recently argued against the height of a building on Gower Street, declined to comment, saying only he had to have a look at the rules.
Brown said the Haviland Street project isn’t the only one on the books at the city. There is also a proposed seven-storey development on Prince Street, between the condominiums and Founders’ Food Hall and Market on the waterfront, which is also as-of-right.
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