St. John’s is moving ahead on a Blackmarsh Road development application even as it negotiates the sale of the proposed site to the developer.
Karwood Estates has an application with the city to develop 4.3 acres of land off Blackmarsh Road into two four-storey apartment buildings (one with 32 units, the other with 20) and 10 three-storey row houses in a single condominium corporation. Karwood first came to an agreement with the city several years ago to buy the land, but the deal fell apart twice, with each side saying the other took too long to close the deal.
Now the city will consider Karwood’s application to rezone the land to allow the development even though Karwood doesn’t technically own the land, and is currently negotiating a price with the city,
a price contingent on the rezoning — to A2, apartment medium-density — being approved.
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“Because it’s a significant change in the neighbourhood, it would be referred to a public meeting as the first step,” said Ken O’Brien, the city’s chief municipal planner, at last week’s meeting of the planning and development committee.
Discussion at the meeting centred around beginning the rezoning process without the land changing hands yet, but Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth and committee chairman Coun. Tom Hann both noted that negotiating to sell the land implies endorsement of the project in principle.
“If we sell the land, that basically means we’re agreeing with the proposal. So are you going to do that before the public hearing? Then you’re going to have a public hearing for a proposal that we’ve already accepted,” Breen pointed out. But the flip side is Karwood won’t want the land if the rezoning isn’t approved, and Ellsworth pointed out the sale would be conditional on the rezoning being approved.
...That zoning conveys value. So we would be looking at selling it for its ultimate zoning and worth, not for its current open-spaces (designation). Ken O’Brien, chief municipal planner, City of St. John’s
“It’s worth saying, because those mechanics are important, that zoning conveys value,” said O’Brien. “So we would be looking at selling it for its ultimate zoning and worth, not for its current open-spaces (designation).”
The committee approved sending the application to a public hearing, a recommendation that will have to be approved by council.