The Morley Hoppner Group is accusing the city of dragging its feet on a proposal to build a mid-rise condo in Beaverbrook.
The developer has filed an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board claiming the city took too long to handle a zoning application to allow construction of a 10-storey condominium at 2 The Parkway.
“I’ve been warned that they’ve been talking about it, so I was not surprised, but I was disappointed,” said Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson.
“If they didn’t like the final decision they could appeal it. But to do it this way is, I think, a little bit underhanded.”
Under the Planning Act, municipalities have 180 days to make a decision on official plan and subdivision plan amendments and 120 days for zoning amendments.
A staff report on the developer’s zoning application had been scheduled to go before the city’s planning committee last July.
But the report was pulled – at the request of the developer – after the Morley Hoppner Group learned staff recommended council turn down the zoning request, said Wilkinson.
The developer wanted some time to work out a compromise with the community and the city, she said.
But Ken Hoppner, vice-president of Morley-Hoppner Group, said his group spent 14 months meeting with city staff and the community trying to work out a compromise.
We’ve spent over a year on the project now and we just feel that avenue allows us to bring some closure to what we’re trying to achieve, which is to rezone the property.”
City staff will present a report at a planning committee meeting on Nov. 27 on what position they recommend the city take at the upcoming OMB hearing.
Gary Sealey, president of the Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association, said the community has gone out of its way to respond to the developer’s proposals in a timely fashion, with hundreds of residents attending several meetings since December 2011.
“I’m surprised the developer is said to be going to the OMB and complaining about delays,” he said. “The KBCA has always provided its advice and its input in a timely way.
“We worked right through the Christmas holidays to serve a deadline set by the city.”
The community association has hired a professional urban planner and a lawyer to provide advice concerning the proposed mid-rise.
“We engaged timely, high-quality professionals,” he said. “The KBCA donors submitted tens of thousands of dollars to that end so we could promote discussion of the proposed development at 2 The Parkway.”
Sealey said he is meeting with other members of the community association to discuss how it will respond to the developer’s appeal.
The Morley Hoppner Group’s first submitted plan asked for the city to rezone the property at 2 The Parkway to allow for a 16-storey residential building with 125 units.
The second revision by the developer included a 10-storey mid-rise residential building with 120 units, with an amenity area above the ninth storey.
A release of a report by city planning staff has been delayed a number of times.
The city’s recommendation was to be originally released on June 29, but was pushed back to Aug. 13 and then late October or early November.
According to a staff report from June 12 obtained by the Kourier-Standard that was never publicly released, staff recommended the city deny the developer’s proposal.
The report stated, “The density proposed far exceeds any other building within the neighbourhood…it is clear that the proposal does not satisfy all of the policies in the (Official) Plan – particularly those policies dealing with intensification in existing, established low-rise neighbourhoods.
“Also, a further look into the proposed units shows that 95 of the 120 units proposed are already two-bedroom units ranging from (82 to 177 square metres) which, in the absence of a unit density cap, could allow further reconfiguration of the building layout and increase the density even farther beyond that currently proposed. With the subject site already exceeding the unit density targeted for the designated Mixed Use Centre and Town Centre for all of Kanata, the proposal is not acceptable.”
John Moser, the city’s manager of planning and growth, told the Morley-Hoppner Group the city’s staff’s recommendation, and the developer asked to have the report pulled from the planning committee’s agenda for it’s July meeting, said Wilkinson.
“They weren’t given the report, but they were given the reasons,” she said.
The Morley Hoppner Group presented a revised plan during a public meeting at the Kanata Recreation Complex held on Sept. 18 calling for changes to the building’s height, setback and landscape.
The revised plan called for a nine-storey mid-rise building , down from 10 storeys in the first revision and 16 storeys in the original plan.
The developer has pulled its third revised proposal from the table and is now seeking to build a 10-storey mid-rise.
Wilkinson said the community is seeking a building no higher than five storeys, while city staff are willing to go as high as seven.
“I supported the community at five,” said Wilkinson.
Hoppner said his group presented several options to the city and community but there was never any “buy in.”
“After 14 months of time and money spent on our behalf, we’re nowhere.”
He said he was surprised when he read that a staff report had been obtained by the Kourier-Standard.
“That’s something we’ve not seen before and that kind of surprised us,” he said.
Hoppner said his group met with senior city staff in August and that both sides agreed they weren’t happy with the process.
He said both sides “agreed to work something out, but that didn’t happen.”
With files from Jessica Cunha