On Thursday, Harbour East Community Council will hold a public hearing to consider a large development on Rosedale Drive. The proposed development is located on an irregularly shaped property that has frontage on Floral Avenue and Fraser Street and backs onto properties on Hester Street. The property is currently home to a mix of commercial and industrial uses, plus one older home. It’s an underused property in close proximity to Wyse Road that is ripe for redevelopment.
HRM has identified this site and nearby Wyse Road in the Centre Plan as a growth centre, capable of accommodating more density. As a result, the property is zoned Higher Order Residential in the Centre Plan, which allows for 20 metre buildings (6-7 stories) as-of-right. The developer submitted their application before the Centre Plan was finalized though and it’s, therefore, being considered under the old pre-Centre Plan rules. The developer has proposed two towers (9 and 11 stories) separated by a wide central courtyard. The towers will step down to 3-4 stories closer to neighbouring homes on Hester and Fraser and with a large setback from Floral Avenue. Parking will be provided via a shared underground garage and with a wide central courtyard.
In their review, staff concluded that the proposal doesn’t comply with the Dartmouth Plan because of the large size of the two towers. The old Dartmouth Plan indicates new development should not only be compatible, but should also be consistent with its surroundings. With no other tall buildings in the area, staff’s conclusion is that the project isn’t compatible or consistent and, therefore, doesn’t meet the provisions of the Dartmouth Plan, growth area or not. Staff have recommended that Council reject the proposal. You can read their report here.
So if staff are against the project, why is Council holding a public hearing? Occasionally a situation arises that is more complex than the lens that staff look at things through and the Rosedale Drive proposal is one of those situations. The site can be redeveloped as multi-unit residential under the Centre Plan as-of-right. The choice here isn’t this project or no development, it’s a question of what form will produce the best results? With that in mind, when this came to Council, I asked staff for a supplementary report to consider what the alternative form of development under the Centre Plan would be. If Council says no to the proposal in front of us as staff recommend, what does the developer’s alternative option look like?
To answer that question, staff and the developer went away and came back with some likely outcomes of what a possible Centre Plan style development could look like on this site. It’s quite a bit different from what is proposed.
Under the Centre Plan, the tall towers disappear, but so do the large setbacks from the Hester Street property lines. The development moves closer to Hester Street and the low rise portions adjacent to both Hester and most of Fraser increase in height to six storeys from 3-4. The central courtyard disappears as well. Basically, under the Centre Plan, there is less open space and the density that is currently proposed to fit in the two towers is accommodated in mid-rise buildings instead. In the proposal coming to Council on Thursday, more of the site remains as open space and in a low-rise form, but there are two tall towers to make up the lost units. The Centre Plan options aren’t fully fleshed out, but it gives an idea of what could be possible. It’s generally a question of tall and thin with the current proposal, or short and wide with the Centre Plan.
There is no right answer to which form is best. I believe there is enough design merit in what the developer is trying to do with tall and thin though to warrant scheduling a public hearing to see what the community’s feelings are. Is it too big, and if so, is the Centre Plan’s alternative preferable? I’m really interested in what the community thinks of the two approaches. I’m very much hoping to hear from folks, especially people who live in the immediate area, as to which approach they would prefer to see in their neighbourhood. Something will happen on the site, and there are two very different possible options.
If you would like to provide feedback to Council on this proposal, please write to me via email or the Clerks Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to participate in the public hearing and address Council directly, you must contact the Municipal Clerk’s Office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. This can be done by phone, email or fax:
• Send an email to email@example.com
• Phone 902.292.3962 (Mon-Fri, 8:30 am-4:30 pm)
• Fax 902.490.4208
In your message, state that you wish to speak during Public Participation at the September 2, 2021 Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council meeting, and give your name, community of residence, email address, and phone number.
For more information on the project, check out the HRM page here.