A report on a proposed Margaret’s Place condo development recommends St. John’s city council approve an extra storey.
Residents opposed to the project say the city is ignoring its own development plans.
Elizabeth Oliver of the Georgestown Neighbourhood Association — whose written submission to the city expressed concerns with the rezoning and the height change, from three storeys to four — told The Telegram on Monday the association isn’t against development, but the city’s process.
“There’s a lot of pressure for development there, and the city’s response has been never to look at the entire block, but to let developments in a piecemeal fashion, which has led to some huge problems in that area,” she said. “Every time a developer has said we want land, we want a rezoning, the city has said sure.”
Oliver said she was also concerned about developers gaining initial approval for a project and then asking for changes, such as requesting rezoning to accommodate a storey not in the original application. But she stopped short of suggesting developers submit toned-down plans to get a development approved and then keep coming back to the city for changes that increase a project’s scope.
“I would hesitate to suggest that,” she said. “I’m just saying that it has been a continual process. And not just that bit of property, all over town.”
Commissioner Glenn Barnes’ report says the developer and the city have followed “all required processes” in approving the project. “The project is consistent with the city municipal plan, which encourages increased density and mixed-use neighbourhoods and heritage preservation,” wrote Barnes.
Unless the issue is deferred, council will vote today on rezoning that would allow the extra storey, and amend the commercial office zone to allow residential units on the ground floor.