St. John’s city council approved rezoning 26 Logy Bay Rd. from residential low density to residential medium density Monday evening, in a controversial move to accommodate building a single-storey, four-unit dwelling.
It’s not the first time a developer has proposed a multiple-dwelling building on the property. In 2014, a proposed two-storey building in the same location saw 116 residents sign a petition against the development. That proposal was rejected by the city.
Residents were again vocal in opposition this time around. The city received six letters against the development, and 25 residents attended a public meeting on Jan. 10 during which members of council and city staff heard residents’ concerns. At the Monday evening council meeting, residents filled the gallery to witness the outcome of the council vote.
Residents expressed a range of concerns about the rezoning and proposed development. They worried the rezoning application will set a precedent for future rezonings, they were concerned the application will change once the property is rezoned, they thought it would increase traffic congestion and cause parking issues, and some worried the four-unit building would pose problems with sewage.
However, council voted to approve the rezoning, with Councillors Deanne Stapleton and Hope Jamieson dissenting.
Jamieson said neighbourhoods with various densities are healthy, but it’s critical any changes council makes to neighbourhoods should happen with residents in agreement.
Jamieson noted the large presence of residents in attendance at the council meeting.
“We cannot force change on people,” she said.
Stapleton said most of the people who opposed the development were residents of her ward.
“I’m going to support my residents,” she said.
In agreement with the rezoning, Coun. Ian Froude said it strengthens the neighbourhood to have various densities, and it adds diversity.
Coun. Sandy Hickman said he’s thought about the application for a long time. He was on council in 2014 when they voted against the last proposal. Hickman said he didn’t support the proposal in 2014, but this new proposal is a single-storey building rather than the original two-storey structure, meaning it has less impact visually, and it has a parking lot. For those reasons, he said he could support the application this time around.
Coun. Dave Lane said it was also his second time voting on a proposed development for the lot, and he called this “actually quite a good proposal for the area” – a statement that prompted a resident in the gallery to audibly “tut-tut” the councillor in disapproval.
Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary echoed Hickman’s sentiment, saying the proposal is “a great departure” from the original application.
Approved with conditions
Once council voted to approve the rezoning, councillors also voted to approve the discretionary use of 26 Logy Bay Rd. for a multiple dwelling.
The discretionary use approval came with conditions from council.
Coun. Maggie Burton suggested a condition to improve the building’s parking lot because many area residents thought the lot at the front of the building was not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood.
As well, Jamieson suggested an amendment to add foliage buffers on both sides of the property.
Froude said it was “overkill” to insist on foliage between two homes.
The discretionary use application to build the dwelling was approved by council, with Coun. Debbie Hanlon and Froude dissenting.
Burton said the process is not in the development stage yet, so council will have more time to discuss in further detail their parking and foliage suggestions.