Submission re Gaspereau Ave Development

Here is a letter from David Daniels to Council concerning the plans for Gaspereau Ave. He has asked us to post here and we are happy to oblige.

January 9, 2012

Dear Council Members:

Please accept the following comments concerning the Gaspereau Avenue apartment project.
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I asked at a Council meeting whether the Council had provided any directions to Mr. Morrison for his upcoming negotiations with the developer of the Gaspereau Avenue project. The answer was “no”.

I do not understand why the Council would not provide guidance to staff when staff members are negotiating a development agreement (DA) which amounts to a contract between the Town and the developer.

Recall that Mr. Morrison has already negotiated one DA with the developer. That DA was unanimously rejected by Council. The developer no doubt expended a good deal of time and money working on this rejected proposal. In addition, the developer has now appealed the rejection to the UARB which has resulted in both the Town and the developer incurring legal costs.

Ms. Mombourquette and Mr. Morrison may prepare for the negotiations by reviewing the minutes or recording of the Council meeting at which the first proposal was rejected. But why not then confer directly with the Council members? Council members may provide further insight into what they would like to see and not see in the development. They also may raise new issues which they believe need to be addressed during the negotiations.

Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that individual Council members provide absolute conditions which must be satisfied before he would vote in favour of a proposal. Rather, Council members should be able to express concerns and issues which they believe should be part of the negotiations. Providing this sort of guidance does not preclude Council members from coming to the public hearing with an open mind and being amenable to persuasion.
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Although it may be difficult to predict the outcome of the pending UARB appeal, it is important when negotiating with the developer to have some sense of the developer’s chances of success. If the negotiations break down, the developer has the option of moving forward with the litigation. If his chances of success at the UARB are not good, then the Town is in a better position to make demands on the developer.

One question I do not know the answer to is: does the Town have the obligation to consider a second proposal if the negotiations break down while litigation is on hold? The answer might depend upon the nature of the consent given by the Town when it agreed to adjourn the UARB proceeding.

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The Town should consider retaining a qualified planning consultant to participate in its negotiations with the developer. (Perhaps some cooperative arrangement can be reached with Kings County.) The final building approved will very likely be a large one with the potential to have a significant impact upon the Town.

A qualified planner can assist the Town in setting out its negotiation position or in responding to particular details in the developer’s proposal. A qualified planner may bring suggestions and perspectives to the negotiation table which would not otherwise be thought of.

In addition, the involvement of a qualified planner might make future litigation less likely. For example, the developer may claim that an idea suggested by the Town is not reasonably consistent with the Town’s MPS or goes against accepted planning practices. If the Town’s idea has the okay of a qualified planner, the Town will have a comfort level in making the demand, and the developer will know that the idea has the imprimatur of a planner. The developer will be less likely to want to litigate if he knows that the Town planner will testify as an expert that the Council’s decision is in line with good planning practices and is reasonably consistent with Town’s MPS.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my comments.

Respectfully,

David A. Daniels

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