Tag Archives: Willow Tree

Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association Boycotts Residents

FHC’s executive has written to the Quinpool Rd. Mainstreet District Association to express dismay at their enthusiastic endorsement of APL’s proposed 25-storey project at Robie and Quinpool at the January 16th public hearing.  The Association is aware since the first public meeting that members of the public, largely residents of the neighbourhoods, were unanimously opposed to the project. At that time, the Association’s letter of support was the only one. The public’s opposition has only grown.

Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by the Willow Tree Group. APL’s project could not be built under the draft Centre Plan.

Demolition/construction at the new convention centre didn’t work out that well for local downtown businesses. FHC wonders if the Association is really representing their membership; why it supports a density dump of high-rises instead of in-fill or mid-rise developments that could add ~ 3,000 residents  and support more pedestrian activity; and, why it doesn’t respect the existing neighbourhoods and Halifax Common?

Please let any of your favourite Quinpool business owners know that you are concerned if they aren’t respecting their neighbourhoods and recognizing the Halifax Common as an asset that should be protected. Loyalty to businesses on Quinpool Road is a two-way street – many residents will note the Association’s support of APL as a betrayal. Why isn’t the Association working with residents to make a better plan for Quinpool?

Please read FHC’s letter here:2018 FHC Quinpool Road Business Commission 

 

 

Epstein-HRM council should respect the Common, as it has Lake Banook

A man bikes in the rain on the Halifax Common. The Armoury which will begin a restoration valued at $17 million is in the background. (Chronicle Herald photo)

Chronicle Herald

by Howard Epstein
Jan 15, 2018

Harbour East Council (Councillors Streatch, Hendsbee, Karsten, Nicoll and Austin) recently rejected a 15-storey proposal for Graham’s Corner beside Lake Banook, and has put off a follow-up proposal at nine storeys.

All of the reasons offered apply to the full HRM council’s consideration this week of the APL proposal for the Willow Tree intersection beside the Halifax Common. And then some.

In the Banook case, neighbourhood incompatibility played a large role. So, too, for the Willow Tree neighbourhood. Parker, Welsford, Williams, and Compton streets, as well as Robie Street itself, constitute a vibrant residential nook, full of family homes that will be seriously negatively affected if rules are changed to allow a 20-storey building.

The Banook case illustrated exactly why the existing zoning restrictions were put in place. So, too, for the Willow Tree neighbourhood.

At the time, Alderman Nick Meagher, who served on council for 33 years until his retirement in 1995, had the foresight to have height, mass, and density regulations adopted that allow for some intensification of use, but cap it at 10 storeys.

This allowed for protection of the small-scale, densely packed, and stable neighbourhoods and local businesses that have traditionally characterized the overall area.

The Banook case took into account negative impacts on the lake itself as a public amenity. So, too, for the Common and the Willow Tree proposal. They are both important destinations that provide a pleasant visual experience because of the sense of open space and sky.

The Common has a greater diversity of passive and active recreational users and pedestrians. It is used year-round.

The area of The Common that remains as public open space is significantly smaller than Lake Banook and so negative impacts are greater.

The Banook nine-storey proposal would cast shadow in the morning but not in summer when the sun is high. The APL 20-storey proposal is on the western edge of the Common and at least twice the height – it will cast a significant shadow. It will especially shadow the Oval, during afternoon winter skating.

The Banook proposal is for less mass and density than the APL proposal. The Willow Tree proposal would violate at least seven bylaws that are designed to protect public open space and neighbourhoods. Overall, it is too much of an impact.

There are many reasons not to change the planning rules to allow the APL proposal to go forward.

It is not only a question of consistency with the Lake Banook case approach. The draft Centre Plan would not allow the project. It is not a sensible environmental basis for development to allow demolition of a building if that can be avoided.

Density to fill foreseeable needs can be achieved at heights of three to six storeys. Six storeys is all that HRM staff see as appropriate immediately next door, which raises another point of inconsistency of approach.

The 1994 Halifax Common Master Plan is in the process of being revised: adjacent lots should not be on the agenda while that process is at work.

We ask council to leave intact the Municipal Planning Strategy policies for the Willow Tree site, and await the Centre Plan and Common Master Plan processes.

Howard Epstein writes on behalf of Friends of the Halifax Common. He is a retired HRM councillor, MLA and lawyer. He taught land-use planning law at Dalhousie University for many years and is author of Land-Use Planning, a law textbook.

This article was published on Jan 15 in the Chronicle Herald

Rick Howe & FHC Update on APL’s Willow Tree Tower

Last week at Council , District 9’s Shawn Cleary suddenly tried to pass a motion to have a public hearing for “up to 25-storeys” for APL’s Willow Tree tower, not the 20-storeys that HRM Council voted for in March. That’s because APL claims 20-storeys won’t make money. Luckily Cleary’s motion didn’t get a 2/3 majority. Media reports vary on what’s next… APL will work with staff to push for height, sue HRM or renovate the existing building. Eight out of nine Councillors defended the March 2017 vote (including Cleary’s) for a public hearing on 20-storeys. Even at that Council and staff are ignoring citizens’ concerns that 20-storeys brings too much density, mass, wind, shadow, traffic and parking and will harm the neighbourhood, local businesses and green space such as the Halifax Common.

Listen to the interview here:

Tell Council APL’s Proposal Needs to Start Over

Tomorrow (Tuesday Nov 14) APL is coming back to HRM Council arguing that their business case for Willow Tree only works at 25-storeys, not the 20-storeys that Council voted to bring to a public hearing. Please tell your Councillor not to yield to the developer’s pressure.
 
FHC agrees with Councillors Waye Mason and Lindell Smith who understand that APL’s now proposed 25-storey building for the Willow Tree is a new proposal and should start from the beginning of the application process. 
 

Source: draft Centre Plan (March 2017), 107; with heights added by the Willow Tree Group

This is a fundamental change from the 20-storeys Council had previously voted to recommend go toa public hearing and it should go back to square one, said FHC’S Howard Epstein. And if 6-storeys is the right height for Westwood Develoment’s building next door on the Cruikshank property, there’s no reason why even 20-storeys should have been considered, let alone 25.

It isn’t just about the single issue of the height of the building-it is about the documented reasons and legitimate concerns of the many citizens who’ve participated and the need for more and better consideration of what the location can and should accommodate.
 
Let’s bring a bit of balance in representing the interests of citizens as well as those of developers. The Centre Plan is a draft only form at this time. What it proposes for this area has not been approved by the public or by the Mayor and Council – nor should it be. The RFP for the Masterplan for the Halifax Common has just be awarded.
 
This is an opportunity to do the right thing and start over with a process that benefits the Common not a private developer. Write or call your Councillor, asap!

Developer Delays May 23rd Public Hearing – FHC Requests New HRM Staff Report

For the public record, FHC is calling for a new HRM report before a public hearing to consider APL’s 20 or 29 storey skyscraper is held. Inaccuracies, biases, omissions and false statements need to be corrected and the significant input by citizens be respected, otherwise the process is meaningless.

For a second time developer APL has asked to delay the HRM Public Hearing for its 20 or 29-storey highrise at Robie and Quinpool. FHC has written City Hall to request a new HRM staff report  before HRM Council holds a Public Hearing. FHC’s concerns about accuracy, bias and comprehensiveness of analyses and statements by staff and councilors are included in an executive summary to Mayor Savage, Councillors, and Chief of Planning Bob Bjerke. See PDF:
2017, May FHC Mayor & Council, new APL staff report
A second document details all 16 items of concern. See PDF:
Attachment, new APL staff report required

Citizens have been almost unanimous in their opposition to both 20 and 29-storeys but their knowledge and input are being ignored. There is no justification for the project which cannot be built under existing regulations or under the draft Centre Plan. If the HRM Staff Report is not corrected, the process is meaningless. Both the April 25th and now May 23rd dates have been cancelled at the request of the developer.

Centre Plan – The Good, the Bad and the Just Plain Stupid

There’s one good change for the Halifax Common in the draft Centre Plan but the rest seems like more bad news…
The Good The draft Centre Plan designates the Halifax Common a “Cultural Landscape” (p 54) but now it needs to make it meaningful by adopting the 1994 Halifax Common Plan as part of the Municipal Planning Strategy so the primary goals to not give up and to re-capture open space on Halifax’s Common are met not just platitudes.

The Bad Robie Street and a dozen other streets such as Cunard, Agricola, Chebucto are designated as “Corridors” with a goal of “redevelopment of new housing, commercial spaces and job opportunities in mixed use buildings” (p 96). By increasing permitted building heights to 4-6 storeys along Robie Street, the Centre Plan will create an incentive for developers to chew through a long-established, small-scale, mixed-use, Continue reading