Category Archives: Development

Gaspereau Ave Appeal

David Daniels has submitted this to pass on. It is from the latest issue of the Mud Creek News. Watch for more items in the next few days.

THE GASPEREAU AVE. APT. APPEAL
The developer appealed the decision by Council to reject the proposed 4-storey apartment building along Gaspereau Ave to the Utility and Review Board. The developer’s solicitor sought to adjourn the appeal.  “Our client wishes to explore whether a redesign of the project will meet the approval of the Town Council by way of development agreement while reserving its rights with respect to the refusal which is the subject matter of this appeal.”  The Town agreed to the requested adjournment.  
Mr. Morrison, the Town’s Director of Planning, previously negotiated the development agreement which the Council unanimously rejected.
I assumed, correctly, that Mr. Morrison would again be representing the Town in the new negotiations with the developer.  I asked at the Dec. 5th Committee of Council meeting whether Mr. Morrison would be receiving any direction from Town Council concerning the negotiations.  The answer was “no.”  I did not ask “why not” but that surely is a question which Councilors may wish to ponder.  I was told that Diane Mombourquette, the CAO, would be joining Mr. Morrison at the negotiation table.  
David A. Daniels
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Gaspereau Apts. – Another View

A submission from David Daniels concerning the proposed development on Gaspereau. Ave.

GASPEREAU APT.S – ANOTHER VIEW

 After a public hearing, the Town Council on September 19th voted 6-0 to reject a proposal to construct a four storey multi-unit apartment building (the “Proposal”) at 146 Gaspereau Avenue. (Councilor Simpson was not present.) The proposed building would contain 38 one and two bedroom apartments. The developer stated that he hoped that half the units would provide affordable housing.

The Proposal was recommended by Town Staff and the Community Development Committee (CDC),  Yet, was unanimously rejected by Council.  How did this reversal happen?  And does it raise issues about the Town’s approval process?  

Before arriving at Council for decision, the Proposal had been recommended by Town Staff.  See Memo dated July 15, 2011.

In a  nine page memo, dated August 17, 2011, Gregg Morrison, the Town’s Director of Planning, provided detailed responses to issues raised by citizens opposed to the Proposal at the July 21st CDC Public Participation Meeting (PPM).

Mr. Morrison’s memorandum addressed such issues as whether the proposed height and mass of the proposed building conflict with adjacent land uses, blockage of view planes, sufficient recreational amenity space, drainage, soil movement and steep slopes.

On August 22nd, the CDC approved the Proposal by a 4-2 vote.  Voting in favour of the Proposal at CDC were Councilors Zimmerman, who chairs the CDC, and Simpson. (The Mayor apparently voted in favour of the Proposal, but in his role as ex officio member of the CDC he is not permitted to vote and his vote was not counted.)

The Planning Staff, the CDC and Council all were required to answer the same question: does the Proposal reasonably carry out the intent of the Town’s Municipal Planning Strategy?  See s. 250(1)(b) of the Municipal Government Act.  Mr. Morrison and the CDC answered “yes”; the Council said “no”.

At the September 22nd CDC meeting, that is, three days after Town Council had rejected the Proposal, one CDC member who had voted for the Proposal asked the question: “what did Council hear on Monday [September 19th] that we didn’t hear at three meetings, and the public participation meeting, that made them vote unanimously against the project?”  He went on to say: “I feel as a committee member, what’s the use.”

When one reviews the documents submitted to the CDC and Council, there were no significant issues raised at the Council meeting which had not been raised at the CDC or which could have and should have been raised earlier by Planning Staff or the CDC.

Councilor Zimmerman responded to the CDC member’s question, provided an explanation as to why the Council had rejected the Proposal and why he had changed his vote. “Some of the decision comes down to a political analysis as opposed to the kind of analysis this committee is asked to give.” Councilor Zimmerman also said that the developer was unwilling to respond to reasonable questions; the developer revealed that funding for the entire proposal was subject to obtaining funding for the affordable housing units and that he was unwilling to enter into a development agreement which would make approval of the proposal contingent upon the inclusion of the affordable units; and mass and scale were important issues and while opponents of the project provided a “model” [made of Legos], the developer refused to provide a massing model.  

(Mr. Zimmerman’s explanation and the discussion of the Proposal can be heard on the recording of CDC’s Sept. 22nd meeting beginning at minute 112:13.)

The mass and scale of the proposed building and its fit within the surrounding neighbourhood were recognized early in the review process as significant issues.  See MPS ss.  12.1.6, 18.6.1(b)(ii) and (g)and Mr. Morrison’s Memo at No. 4.  The essential need for a massing model or a three dimensional rendering of the Proposal and surrounding neighbourhood should have been recognized as soon as questions of mass and scale were raised by citizens, if not before. 

The developer should have been required to provide the information (a model of some sort) needed by the Town in order for it to make an informed decision.  If the developer refused, then the review should have come to an end.  Such a request would not have been onerous for such a large project. 

But it made sense for the developer to refuse to provide the model late in the review process.  Why should he do so when the Proposal had already been recommended by Town Staff and the CDC without a model.

Councilor Mangle stated at the Council meeting that he was voting against the Proposal because the draft development agreement did not contain a provision requiring affordable housing units. The draft development agreement presented to the CDC lacked such a provision.  (I raised this very issue during the CDC PPM.)  Since the affordable housing component was a big selling point for the Proposal, why hadn’t Town Staff or the CDC insisted that it be included in the development agreement?

Mr. Zimmerman should not have had to wait until the September 19th Council meeting to learn that the developer was not willing to commit to affordable housing in a development agreement.  

Another objection to the Proposal raised at the Council meeting was that the entire project fell within a designated environmentally sensitive area.  The Proposal, according to Councilor Irving, would result in the slope being made steeper. See MPS s.6.1.1.  Why hadn’t this MPS provision been directly addressed earlier in the approval process?

Mayor Stead commented at the September 22nd CDC meeting that the developer had “left [Mr. Morrison] hanging out to dry” and that “he had embarrassed the planning department” by not defending his own proposal.  

Rather than disparage the developer and worry about possible embarrassment to the Planning Department, the Mayor should ponder: how had the Proposal progressed so far along the approval process and yet had been found so wanting by Council?   

The Town in the past has retained a professional planner to review development proposals.  The Town might consider doing so again with major projects. (The Town, if it is able, should pass on this extra expense to the developer.)

The Mayor and Council members should think about why it was necessary for John Whidden, in his impassioned presentation at the September 19th public hearing, at the very last step in the Town’s approval process, to plead to Council: “Don’t to go for the minimum”, “Negotiate” and “We can do better.”

 David A. Daniels

 October 12, 2011

The Pete Luckett effect

Want to get close to Pete?  Here’s your chance for only $1000.00/acre.

Grand Pre Road, Kings County. This beautiful large lot has lots of road frontage and is very close to Pete Lucketts brand new vineyard.  Minutes to Wolfville and Acadia University.  Approximately 5 kms to exit 9 on Hwy 101(Avonport).  Has been migrated to land registration system and is ready to go.

We have just one question. Well, two actually. Is it farmland and will the No Farms No Food group give a GD?

 

AIMS Municipal Performance Report

The 2nd Annual Nova Scotia Municipal Performance Report is out. It is ” a compilation of information from 2006 to 2008. It reveals the performance of municipal governments at fulfilling their responsibilities.”

In the first chart 55 municipalities are listed from most effective to least.  See how far you have to scroll down before you find Wolfville which is ranked 46th out of 55!  More detailed analysis follows where the municipalities are listed in alphabetical order.  Here is the link to the report (PDF)

 

UPDATE -a detail from one of the informative charts:

Colourful Railtown

After five years  –

Condominium owners at a colourful Harbourside Drive development in Wolfville are pleased their building is finally registered with the provincial condominium board. …. Local realtor John MacKay says deed holders at Railtown are happy now and his firm continues to show condos. Toronto consultant Bob Ferris says about half of the 29 units in Railtown have been sold. [link]

That’s all right then, eh?

A letter

This is a letter we saw in the Advertiser a few days ago [Feb 8]. We couldn’t find a link so we are copying it out.

The Valley: Not much here to look at

It wasn’t for lack of effort our Valley’s tourist value will be soon finished – right about when all the roadside developments are!

I thank Leslie Wade and the organizers and councillors who have continued to fight the good fight to maintain farmland.

However, thanks to Kings County council’s vote Feb. 1 tourists now will be able to drive up from Halifax to see – strip malls and backyard swings! Really worth the drive.

Isn’t it wonderful four already fortunate, long term land-owning heirs were allowed (by some unresponsive councillors and a warden) to take their family legacy from their own heirs, and the most beautiful views of the Valley from the public? Chaching!

Shame on those councillors and our warden.

It is signed with the writer’s name and a location indicated as Grand Pre.

Let us think about Grand Pre for a minute. It has a gas station, and a motel and cafe, and a couple of wineries with shops attached, one with a restaurant, an antique store or two, B & Bs, a horse stable, and nearby JustUs coffee roastery and the Tangled Gardens shop/factory which makes jams, jellies etc. It also has a major interpretive centre. These are commercial or institutional establishments. It also has some recent residential building (duplexes). We suspect none of these “developments” (except perhaps the stable) would be allowed presently in the farmland zoning the SOS people are fighting to keep.

Does Mr. Robinson LIKE Grand Pre? We suspect he does. Does he consider it attractive to tourists? We do. Perhaps Greenwich might like to “develop” some of those things as well. Would a market similar to Pete’s Frootique be attractive? Perhaps a good bakery? Tourists are attracted by “things to do” not just by “views” of farmland.

Why is it that the land west of Eden Row can be “developed” but not the land east of Eden Row?

We think what the writer is worried about is the TYPE of development (“strip malls and back-yard swings”). That is yet to be approved and  is still up for debate and input. Supporting infrastructure is an issue. It is hoped good decisions will be made.

And we think the bee keeper could be grandfathered.

More on farms

David Daniels, one of our regular readers, made a submission at the recent meeting on the re-zoning of Greenwich land . He has sent his full presentation to us for publication since media reports of necessity leave out much of the detail. It is 39 pages and in pdf format so we have attached it as a link below rather than copy it all in.

Daniels submission

We do copy below this portion – what Mayor Stead said the Town concerns were.

In a letter to then Warden Fred Whalen, dated October 25, 2010, the Mayor of the Town of Wolfville, Robert Stead, sets out the Town’s concerns about the proposal and why it may have a negative impact upon the Town and the general region.  The concerns are: (1) Infrastructure costs.  It would be better for development to take place in existing growth centres in Kings County.  “There is likely significant extra capacity within all the Kings County growth centres including the Towns of Kentville and Berwick.  Development can take place in the existing growth centres without the need to extend off site services and in many cases infill development can take place without the need for any additional on-site services as well.”  (2) There is a need to preserve all farmland. The proposal’s attempt to preserve best soils through the designation of Urban Agriculture will likely not achieve that end.  (3) Development in existing growth centres has sustainability advantages.  (4) Social/Cultural Issues.  The existing growth centres represent the heart of social and cultural interaction and the creation of another growth centre will weaken the existing growth centres. (5) Lifestyle/Health Issues. “Development in Greenwich, away from the existing commercial centres, will not encourage this healthy lifestyle.”

Our emphasis, not Mr. Daniels.  And here is our Translation:”‘Canada Lives Here‘ in Wolfville and that’s the way it should stay even though it costs an arm and a leg. We need the taxes so we can continue spending like there is no tomorrow.”

We wish these issues were adjudicated rationally instead of with the emotion betrayed at the meeting. Candles and a soulful rendition of Amazing Grace are sweet but don’t cut the mustard when it comes to significant decisions like this one.