City Hall is caught in a deadlock over whether to approve four developments that go against HRMbyDesign.
The projects would break HRMbyDesign rules – two buildings on Barrington Street would be three times taller than proposed height restrictions – but they were all brought forward last year, before the plan was approved.
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Some councillors want to grandfather the developments and allow them to go ahead because HRMbyDesign hasn’t come into effect yet.
“When (developers) bought the property 10 years ago, they didn’t know about HalifaxbyDesign. Had they known they might have only paid half as much,” said Fairview-Clayton Park Coun. Russell Walker.
HRM staff also lobbied for grandfathering, saying developers had invested time and money in these projects in good faith following the rules of the time.
But other councillors argued letting the projects go ahead would erode HRMbyDesign. They also questioned the timing of the proposals. All four proposals were released after the plan was made public, but before it was voted on.
“Yes, maybe they did buy the land 10, 15, 20 years ago. But they didn’t submit their plans until after they saw HRMbyDesign,” said Clayton Park West Coun. Mary Wile.
The debate continued on to the end of a committee of the whole meeting. It will be picked up and voted on next Tuesday.
One other project that has a chance to dodge new guidelines is a new world trade centre at the former Chronicle Herald site. That building would far exceed height guidelines.
But a loophole would give an exemption for developments that offer significant social, cultural and economic benefits.