Says city breaking own rules with Mount Cashel Road development
A St. John’s couple opposed to a condo development next to their house on Mount Cashel Road are taking their case to court.
Jessica Dellow and Nicholas Crosbie filed an application Friday with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador for a judicial review of St. John’s city council’s rezoning approval of 12-20 Mount Cashel Road for development of 27 condominium townhouses. Dellow said Monday that neither the previous zone nor the rezoned designation allows for 27 townhouses under the city’s Municipal Plan.
“Fundamentally, as lawyers, we both really believe that the city is obligated to follow its own rules,” said Dellow. “And at the end of the day, the city is not following its own rules.”
The court filing notes that until last month, the size of the land in question was noted as 0.53 hectares, with the parcel size on the developer’s own survey recording it as 0.5284 hectares.
On June 4, 2014, the department of planning advised council for the first time that ‘The subject property has an area of 0.54 hectares,’” notes the application. The rounding is significant; under the land’s new designation of medium density, city regulations allow for 50 units per net hectare — 0.54 would allow for 27 units, the number in the development, while 0.5284 or 0.53 hectares theoretically shouldn’t.
“We believe strongly that the Municipal Plan and the regulations contain protections that are meant to protect the citizens of the city, and it’s disappointing to see the city not following them,” said Dellow.
Dellow’s also disappointed to see something else on the agenda for city council’s Tuesday meeting: an amendment that would remove references to density standards — as well as prescriptive height and lot coverage — from the Municipal Plan.
“These standards are more appropriately addressed within the zone requirements as contained within the St. John’s Development Regulations,” wrote Ken O’Brien, the city’s chief municipal planner, in a report to council dated June 27. “We’re hoping that other citizens will recognize that these are procedural safeguards that are in the Municipal Plan,” said Dellow. “If they’re removed from the Municipal Plan, then they’d be going in the regulations, and the regulations can be changed with much less process than what’s needed to change the Municipal Plan. We’re hoping that other citizens will be concerned about the fact that it seems like council is attempting to change the rules for the entire city to deal with one problem in only one small portion.”
But Coun. Tom Hann, chairman of the city’s planning and development committee, said Tuesday that the removal of density standards from the Municipal Plan — which would require public review and provincial approval — is a housekeeping move.
“There will still be applications coming in for height and for density, and we’ll have to do those on a one-off basis,” said Hann.