Opponents lose latest bid to halt $42m Gottingen Street affordable housing project

Source: The Chronicle Herald – September 17, 2015

A group fighting against a proposed $42-million development on Gottingen Street in Halifax has lost its latest battle against the affordable housing project.

The province’s Utility and Review Board rejected an appeal by a group of area property owners and developers in a decision this week. The development is proposed by the non-profit Housing Trust of Nova Scotia.

The trust plans to build a pair of mixed-use buildings, including apartments and ground-floor commercial, at 2183 and 2215 Gottingen St. One property is the former Metropolitan store site; the other housed Diamonds bar.

Housing trust president Ross Cantwell said Thursday he’s pleased with the ruling because there were no solid grounds for the appeal.

“It’s been a long slog but we’re pretty committed to what we’re doing, and we’re hoping to get this behind us.”

The appeals have delayed the project by about a year, Cantwell said.

Howard Epstein, the agent for project opponents, said the group still has to decide whether to continue the case in the courts.

“It will take a while to read through it and think about it,” he said. “But it will be looked at in that light.”

The group asked the regulator to overturn development agreements for the project approved in February by Halifax and West community council. The agreements are needed because the project exceeds Halifax Regional Municipality’s height restrictions for the area.

One building would have up to eight storeys and the other up to 11.

The group argued the development approvals violated the city’s municipal planning strategy. Besides building height, other concerns were that the project doesn’t fit with the neighbourhood and could have a negative impact on other development plans.

But board member Dawna Ring ruled that community council’s decisions were consistent with the strategy and would benefit the neighbourhood.

Some group members previously appealed a separate municipal decision to approve a zoning change for the project. The board rejected that case in December.

The latest appeal involved Beverly Miller, 3244160 Nova Scotia Ltd., Walk-Eh? Enterprise Ltd., Bonnell Corp. and Downtown Mini Storage Ltd.

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