A photo of Hogan Court in Bedford, looking southeast, from the staff presentation to the community councils last month. Credit: Contributed

A Halifax developer is asking the provincial utility and review board to overturn two community councils’ decisions to deny its application for more residential units in Bedford.

Cresco Holdings Ltd. — the developer behind subdivisions like the Parks of West Bedford and the Ravines of Bedford South — applied to the municipality to add more residential space to its project on Hogan Court, in the Larry Uteck area on the west side of Highway 102.

Cresco already had a development agreement from 2012 for residential and commercial development on the property. It’s building a 200-unit apartment building, a 110-unit hotel with convention space, and a grocery store.

That development agreement set a maximum amount of combined residential and commercial density for the surrounding area, and Cresco applied to HRM to amend the agreement to swap 162 people worth of commercial space for 72 residential units. In total, 272 residential units would be permitted in the area.

Municipal planner Meaghan Maund recommended in favour of the amendment.

“The maximum permitted population density will not change as a result of this proposal, only the ability to have additional residential units at the expense of less commercial density,” Maund wrote in the staff report.

“Therefore, staff recommend that the Halifax and West Community Council and North West Community Council approve the proposed amending development agreement.”

Both community councils, comprising 11 Halifax regional councillors, heard the application because the property falls within both of their two jurisdictions.

They considered the proposal at a joint meeting on Nov. 30, and both community councils voted against the proposal in separate votes.

“Halifax and West Community Council members explained that the development lacks active transportation and was not transit or pedestrian friendly,” say the minutes from the meeting.

“Members expressed traffic and environmental concerns, including increased greenhouse gas emissions and the impact on Kearney Lake. It was also unclear how the reduction of commercial density would occur.”

Likewise, “North West Community Council members expressed concerns around traffic, stormwater management and the lack of transit and active transportation.”

In a letter dated Dec. 7, Stewart McKelvey lawyer Robert Grant notified Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board (UARB) of Cresco’s intention to appeal the decisions by the community councils.

“These decisions do not reasonably carry out the intent of the municipal planning strategy and the intent of the development agreement,” Grant wrote. “The decisions were contrary to the recommendations and advice of the Director of Planning and Development of Halifax Regional Municipality. The reasons provided for the refusal of the amendment to the development agreement are not supported by either the intent of the municipal planning strategy or the intent of the development agreement.”

Grant notified the board that “Cresco will request that the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board … allow its appeal and order the Community Councils to approve the amendment to the development agreement as applied for.”

After a preliminary hearing held by conference call on Tuesday, the UARB ordered on Wednesday that a hearing be scheduled for Feb. 4, 2021.

The parties will submit their evidence in January, the hearing will be held publicly by video conference on Feb. 4, and then the board will file a written decision afterward.

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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