An architectural rendering showing the proposal from the opposite side of Portland Street. — T.A. Scott Architecture + Design
An architectural rendering showing the proposal from the opposite side of Portland Street. — T.A. Scott Architecture + Design

A Dartmouth developer got approval for three apartment buildings along Portland Street after the municipality’s first virtual public hearing Tuesday night.

T.A. Scott Architecture + Design Limited, on behalf of property owner LMNO Properties Limited — owned by Dartmouth real estate agent and developer T. Chandler Haliburton — proposed two six-storey apartment buildings (buildings A and B) with commercial space in the ground floor at 358-364 Portland St. and a four-storey apartment building behind them (Building C).

Across the three buildings, there’d be 110 residential units ranging from 500-square foot bachelors to 900 square-foot two-bedroom apartments, more than 6,000 square feet of commercial space and 115 parking spots.

Haliburton said he’s applied for funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) that’s tied to their definition of affordability — 10% below market rates.

The site plan, showing the proximity of Building C to Rodney Road. — T.A. Scott Architecture + Design
The site plan, showing the proximity of Building C to Rodney Road. — T.A. Scott Architecture + Design

LMNO purchased the properties — four on Portland Street and one behind them technically on Rodney Road but with no road frontage — in 2018 for $700,000, according to Property Valuation Services Corporation records.

The Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council unanimously approved both a rezoning for the unaddressed property and a development agreement for the whole site after one public hearing to cover both decisions.

It was the first such hearing since city meetings went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic in April. Aside from some confusion over a delay between the webcast and what citizens on the phone could hear, along with the usual mute button snafus, the hearing ran smoothly.

Eight people signed up to speak and all eight called in — one of them in favour of the proposal.

The rezoning of the rear lot from R2 to R3 was the only contentious part of the proposal; every speaker said they wanted to see the two buildings on Portland Street built. But Rodney Road residents worried the four-storey building in the back would encroach on the privacy of their one- and two-storey homes on abutting properties.

“The proposed four-storey building will tower over our homes and gardens,” Madelaine Corke told the community council.

Corke’s neighbour, Heather Yule, said the building “removes all privacy for the neighbours.”

“That seems obnoxious, honestly,” Yule said.

The residents also expressed concern that the rezoning would set a precedent for further creeping of commercial development into their residential neighbourhood.

Centre Plan doesn’t apply

The properties aren’t subject to the Centre Plan because the application was in before the cut-off, but in the staff report to the community council, planner Jamy-Ellen Klenavic wrote that the project was “generally compatible” with the intent of the plan — although the buildings are larger than it would allow.

In general, Klenavic found the project was “reasonably consistent” with the municipal planning strategy in effect for the area at the time of submission.

“The proposed buildings would be the tallest buildings in the neighbourhood, but are still of moderate height, and would be compatible and consistent with the existing development form while also adding infill residential density in an area where the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy calls for increasing density,” Klenavic wrote.

Although expressed sympathy for the Rodney Road residents, Dartmouth Centre Coun. Sam Austin supported the proposal. He said he felt the rezoning matched the spirit of the Centre Plan, to add density to the urban core of the municipality.

“I don’t see a reason to refuse this from a practical point of view,” Austin said.

Austin asked Klenavic about the risk of the precedent residents worried about, and she said the Centre Plan would eliminate that issue in the future.

Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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