Chopped by coun­cil

Wil­low Tree de­vel­oper sig­nals le­gal ac­tion

StarMetro Halifax - - HALIFAX - Zane Wood­ford Metro | Hal­i­fax

Un­like its name­sake, a new de­vel­op­ment at the Wil­low Tree is likely to “die a nat­u­ral death” af­ter a vote by Hal­i­fax re­gional coun­cil left it in limbo. But the de­vel­oper is sig­nalling it will take the mat­ter to the courts.

APL Prop­er­ties Lim­ited orig­i­nally pro­posed a 29-storey res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment for the cor­ner of Quin­pool Road and Ro­bie Street.

Last year, coun­cil ap­proved by­law amend­ments to give APL the full 29 storeys, even though staff rec­om­mended cap­ping it at 20.

Af­ter last year’s elec­tion, the new coun­cil voted to bring the height in line with that orig­i­nal staff rec­om­men­da­tion, and to sched­ule a pub­lic hear­ing on the de­vel­op­ment.

Mu­nic­i­pal staff wrote in a re­port to coun­cil that the de­vel­oper de­layed the pub­lic hear­ing, and then told mu­nic­i­pal plan­ning staff it can’t make a busi­ness case for 20 storeys. APL pro­posed 25 storeys in­stead.

Af­ter hours of de­bate and pro­ce­dural ma­noeu­vres, coun­cil voted against an amend­ment to give the de­vel­oper just that.

Ac­cord­ing to CAO Jac­ques Dubé, that means a new de­vel­op­ment won’t hap­pen at all. He said APL will likely ren­o­vate the ex­ist­ing struc­ture on the site, a 10 storey of­fice build­ing.

“Six months will go by, and the file will die a nat­u­ral death at the end of that six month pe­riod,” Dubé told coun­cil dur­ing de­bate.

Coun. Shawn Cleary pushed for coun­cil to re­verse its ear­lier de­ci­sion to limit the de­vel­op­ment to 20 storeys, ar­gu­ing the cur­rent struc­ture is ugly, and the area needs the den­sity.

Le­gal staff told coun­cil the vote re­quired a two-thirds ma­jor­ity vote from coun­cil, be­cause it re­versed an ear­lier de­ci­sion. The vote was 9-8.

“It was our un­der­stand­ing from com­mu­ni­ca­tions with staff, prior to the meet­ing tonight, that a sim­ple ma­jor­ity was needed to pass the mo­tion for 25 sto­ries. The mo­tion for 25 re­ceived the ma­jor­ity and should have passed,” APL spokesper­son Adam Mclean said in an emailed state­ment to Metro.

“HRM Le­gal had a dif­fer­ent opinion dur­ing the de­bate and in­di­cated 2/3 was re­quired. We can’t com­ment on the mat­ter fur­ther as this is now for le­gal dis­cus­sion.”

Con­trib­uted/wm fares

the pro­posed Wil­low tree de­vel­op­ment.

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