City orders more homework on Glendale condos

It looks like concerns raised by residents living near the proposed site of a condominium complex at 16–24 Glendale Avenue is causing the City of Mount Pearl to ask more questions of its own.
The City will have to rezone the area to Residential High Density to accommodate the project by Gibraltar Developments. But given the feedback at a public briefing session last month, the City’s Development Department is recommending a study into some of the residents’ concerns, which range from a loss of privacy and lowering of property values to increased traffic and strain on the water and sewer system.
Planning and Development Committee chairman Andrew Ledwell said some of the concerns focused on the height and size of the proposed building and how it will affect the view planes of residents, not only on Glendale Avenue, but Castors Drive and Blade Crescent as well.
Ledwell added some people are also concerned about increased traffic on Glendale Avenue and the immediate streets around the proposed development, as well as on Commonwealth Avenue, First Street and Ruth Avenue. Some residents say that area is already congested.
“Finally there were also some concerns surrounding the ability of our municipal infrastructure to service the particular development and the impact of the proposed development on the Waterford River,” Ledwell said. “So at this stage in the process the Planning and Development Department proposes to undertake some further analysis on all of these areas. This analysis is going to be conducted as quickly as possible and certainly will be brought back to council for consideration before any type of decision is made on the rezoning process… The Planning and Development committee has discussed this at length and we certainly recommend that this analysis take place.”
Ledwell said the City will hire an independent consultant to review the height of the proposed complex and determine the effect on the neighbourhood’s sightlines. “In terms of property values, it’s proposed that an independent, professional appraiser be engaged to conduct a study on the property values in the Glendale area but also on Castors and Blade,” he said. “It’s also proposed that we would engage a real estate agent to be consulted.”
In terms of traffic concerns, Ledwell said the City will ensure the streets in the area are included in a traffic study that is already underway in Mount Pearl.
Mayor Randy Simms said he was aware of the recommendation concerning building height and noted the height that was advertised in the paper, which had it as some three-and-a-half to four stories, was incorrect, because a section of the building will be four stories high. “So having the independent professional undertake that review seems to make sense,” he said.
But Simms said he was not aware the additional analysis of the project would involve the larger traffic study, which is already underway. “And I’m concerned about the amount of time involved,” he said.
Simms asked the Director of Infrastructure and Public Works, Gerald Antle, whether he could give a firm date for the study’s completion.
“No, I cannot,” Antle admitted.
The director explained the traffic study is merely in phase one, which includes gathering all the information the City has on traffic matters in Mount Pearl. The next part will involve analysis of that material and a determination of what information will be needed to complete the study, “which is phase two,” he said.
Antle said the City reviewed the traffic information contained with Gibraltar’s development application “and we didn’t see those impacts as being significant.”
As for the potential impact on traffic outside that immediate area, Antle said that will have to be part of the larger study being done by the City. “But to set a time frame on that?” he said. “I think our overall traffic study is somewhere in the next year.”
That led Simms to ask if the Planning committee intends on recommending the proposed development go on hold for a year until the traffic study is done. Simms said he would like to write the residents in the area to inform them of the process that is being followed and the timeline for the analysis.
Planning and Development Direct Stephen Jewczyk indicated the timeline, and the additional analysis, won’t be as broad as the mayor fears. Some of the information will be available from the City’s own departments, he explained, and the question of whether there will be additional traffic congestion can be assessed by obtaining information from the developer.
Pressed by Simms for a firmer timeline on the completion of that work, Jewczyk said “definitely within a couple of months.”
Councillor John Walsh acknowledged the City has seen a couple of contentious developments recently, including a proposed seniors’ condominium complex on Municipal Avenue. “But I just want to say for the record and for the information of the public… and it almost doesn’t need to be said, but it seems like people lose faith in terms of the process or what we do, but does anyone in their right mind think we would actually approve a project in the City of Mount Pearl wherein there is not sufficient water and sewer capacity to handle a development?”
Walsh said the City has held up developments because additional infrastructure was needed. “I just want to restore public confidence,” he said. “In terms of whether there is sufficient water and sewer capacity, we can say unequivocally there is sufficient capacity. If there wasn’t, we would never be able to recommend this for approval. That’s the end of the discussion on that as far as I’m concerned.”

Posted on August 7, 2015 .