St. John's city staff recommend approval for amendments permitting 16-storey structure
A proposal to build two 16-sto-rey towers for a seniors development in the east end of St. John’s is back before council, with city staff recommending that amendments to increase allowable building heights move on to the next stage of the approval process.
In a memorandum prepared last Wednesday for council, city manager of planning and information Ken O’Brien recommended that council approve two amendments that will increase the maximum allowable building height for the area from 10 storeys to 16 storeys. The matter will be put to a vote at today’s council meeting.
A 10-storey building already exists for Tiffany Village, located on Tiffany Lane. Developer KMK Pro-perties initially proposed to build five 10-storey structures as part of the project before whittling that number down to three buildings, two of which have not been built.
Last month, a public hearing was held on the proposed amendments to the St. John’s Municipal Plan and the city’s development regulations. The commissioner who prepared the report, Wayne Thistle, concluded that council should proceed with the amendments.
According to his report, the buildings take up 32 per cent less space under the three-building proposal, reduced from a five-building figure of 81,386 to 55,435 square feet of land area.
Altogether, the three buildings would offer 423 living units, offering both apartments and assisted living spaces.
Four people spoke at the meeting, expressing concern about the development on several fronts, and written submissions received were both for and against increasing the maximum allowable height.
Traffic remained an issue for some. One person with two children attending the nearby Mary Queen of Peace School questioned whether the area is designed to handle further traffic. The report indicates there will be 346 parking spaces onsite.
Fire safety, the effect of shadowing on the school’s outdoor play areas, and the visual impact of the two towers on the neighbourhood were amongst objections raised.
Those in support of the amendments said the two towers will help alleviate urban sprawl. The report referenced a March 2013 letter from KMK Properties that addressed traffic concerns. The letter noted a traffic impact study from June 2011 concluded “there would be no significant impact on traffic,” based on the addition of four 10-storey buildings.
“The proposed two buildings will contain fewer units than the four buildings, so the impact on traffic will be even less than that considered in the study,” wrote the company.
A land use assessment report dealt with the impact of shadowing. The report suggested there could be some early morning shadows on the play area by Sept. 21, with none present by lunch time. By Dec. 21, shadows would impact the playing field in the morning and move along it through the morning and into the early afternoon.
KMK Properties has since cited the fact weather is predominantly cloudy from the beginning of December to the end of February. It also said shadowing would affect only 3.9 per cent of the play area at worst from March to September.
On the matter of fire safety concerns and the proposed building’s suggested impact on a specific flight path, Thistle said the applicant’s proposal does not reference those issues “and whereas it can be expected that residents would raise these matters, it is reasonable to conclude that the responsible authorities have addressed them.”