St. John’s City Council voted 8 - 3 to allow a previously approved seniors condominium to add a fourth floor, despite a lot of opposition from nearby residents.
In 2002, council approved a subdivision on Margaret’s Place including the three-storey complex. But the developer has since asked to add the extra floor — an increase of 11 units.
Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Tilley chaired the public meeting the addition on June 22 and presented his report to council Tuesday.
Tilley said many of the concerns of residents have been addressed already.
But Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary vehemently disagreed.
She was by far the most outspoken councillor against the addition, and suggested the whole development has been a disaster from the start.
“The word that was coming from the public hearing and from the residents in the neighbourhood ... is this is just a farce,” she said.
O’Leary then said, to her, it appears that’s the case.
She then listed issues ranging from traffic, sidewalks, emergency access to the cul-de-sac, access to laneways linking area schools and a mess left by the contractor.
“There were many concerns that the residents had 10 years ago that were not addressed,” O’Leary said.
Beyond that, she noted the developer has been advertising the fourth storey for sometime, even though council had yet to approve it.
“The public in the neighbourhood do not have trust in council in this democratic process and feel the process is broken,” said O’Leary.
O’Leary got support from Coun. Sandy Hickman and Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff, who said she believes council allowed an “over-development” of the area in 2002.
But the rest of council had no problem with the fourth floor.
Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay agreed there have been legitimate concerns with the development.
But he said it would be unfair to say the city has done nothing to address the issues of residents.
“There’s been a lot of criticism of council at that meeting which I think was very unfair,” he said. “There was a lot of criticism with respect to our planning department (that) I think was unfair.”
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe had to call for order a handful of times as O’Leary spoke while her colleagues made their comments.
In the end council voted to allow the fourth floor.
However, it was agreed by council the city wouldn’t issue permits to construct the extra storey until a number of conditions were met by the developer.
Two other major developments were also brought up at the meeting.
An eight-storey office building for the corner of Job Street and Hamilton Avenue and a 12-storey hotel proposed for New Gower and Springdale streets were both unanimously sent for land use assessment reports and public meetings.
While most on council seem to approve of the office building, a couple of councillors said they had some concerns over the hotel, but would wait for the next step of the process to unfold before making any comments.