Contentious apartment proposal back to council

Widespread opposition to rezoning land on Stavanger Drive

Published on June 23, 2014
The area marked in yellow is where Northern Property REIT hopes to build a four-storey, 71-unit apartment building on Stavanger Drive in St. John’s. — Image courtesy the City of St. John’s

A contentious proposal to construct an apartment building on Stavanger Drive will return to St. John’s City Council’s agenda later this week.
Northern Property REIT submitted an application last year to the city to rezone 150 Stavanger Dr., located behind Walmart and close to Shortall Street and Stanford Place.

At Tuesday’s public meeting, councillors are expected to vote on whether the city will proceed  to rezone that land to accommodate the four-storey, 71-unit apartment building. There is no meeting Monday due to the Discovery Day holiday.

In a memorandum prepared for councillors last week, chief municipal planner Ken O’Brien did not provide a specific recommendation on whether to reject or accept the application for rezoning. Approving the application would require amendments to the St. John’s Municipal Plan and Development Regulations.

However, there has been widespread condemnation of the proposal. A public meeting late last month attracted more than 150 attendees, and those who spoke were firmly not in favour of having an apartment building at that location. The city also received 48 emails and letters and a petition with approximately 400 names attached to it asking councillors to deny the application.

Several issues were brought up by residents during that meeting. It was suggested homeowners moved into the area east of the proposed location for the apartment building on the premise it would remain a low-density neighbourhood.

Traffic concerns were also brought up. Some suggested the 91 parking spaces for the building will be insufficient, while others questioned the accuracy of research claiming the development would produce 21 two-way trips during peak morning hours and 28 for evening peak hours.

Area resident Vanessa Newhook said at the meeting she initially attended to support the proposal. But the results of the traffic impact statement convinced her the analysis was flawed.

Glen Barnes, representing Northern Property REIT, told meeting attendees the building will generally target people older than 50. The cost to rent a two-bedroom apartment will likely be $1,400 per month. He said the site could serve as a transition point between commercial and residential development.

If council votes to move forward with the amendments, the Department of Municipal Affairs will need to provide its own consent. If the province gives its stamp of approval to the amendments and council votes to adopt them, an independent commissioner will be appointed to oversee a public hearing.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew