A proposed 280-unit development in Lantzville is proceeding to a public hearing after the mayor essentially called for a do-over vote.
The District of Lantzville has received a special area plan – a type of land-use amendment – for the Clark/Medd properties close to the Island Highway and Ware Road.
The official community plan and zoning bylaw amendment application from Lantzville Projects Ltd. passed first and second readings by 4-1 votes in May, but on July 27, Mayor Mark Swain motioned that the second reading be rescinded so that the district could invite the applicant to submit a new application with no more than 176 units.
Swain said since the spring, he’s had time to reflect and to consider community feedback.
“I feel like I was acting short-sighted at the time…” he said at the July 27 meeting. “I was actually quite excited to have an application before us. I wilfully chose to discount the residents’ input, time and energy that had gone into creating our OCP and for that, I am actually sorry.”
Swain’s motion was supported by Coun. Ian Savage, who had been the only member of council to vote against first and second readings the first time around. He reiterated that he wants to see the application succeed, but wants to see “its best face being presented” to the public.
“The OCP’s not being honoured. That’s the No. 1 thing I hear from people that don’t want all this density. The numbers in the OCP are there for a reason,” Savage said.
However, Coun. Will Geselbracht called the mayor’s motion “inappropriate” and outside the municipality’s process. He said the numbers in the OCP refer to range of units, not density.
“[That] range of units can be exceeded for good reason and the proponent has put forward a proposal,” Geselbracht said. “Our staff has taken an enormous amount of time with their report pointing out that all of the goals that the OCP sets out for a project in this special planning area would be met if this project goes ahead.”
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Lantzville council, for the second time, voted to advance the Clark/Medd land-use plan to a public hearing. Mayor says the project is "becoming divisive." https://t.co/2tBU70NkmS pic.twitter.com/N6IHolKf18
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) August 5, 2020
Coun. Jamie Wilson was a member of the district’s OCP committee and suggested seeing pictures gives him a better idea of the scale of the development than numbers.
“I don’t feel that I was in full understanding of the numbers. I can also say with confidence that I felt that that OCP committee was bullied into the numbers to a degree,” he said.
Coun. Karen Proctor said the mayor’s motion to rescind second reading doesn’t follow protocol. She referred to staff reports and said “if we don’t plan financially sustainable neighbourhoods, our taxes are going to go up.”
The district received 20 pieces of correspondence, with about 75 per cent of those supporting Swain’s motion to rescind second reading or generally opposing the Clark/Medd development over concerns about density and impacts on the community’s character.
Brian Henning, agent for Lantzville Projects Ltd., wrote to council to advise that the developer is firm on its application but open to meaningful discussion.
“Suddenly interjecting unexplained development approaches and rescinding bylaws without any notice or discussion creates confusion, fear and delays in the legislated process,” Henning wrote. “It disturbs us that the mayor has made a decision on our application prior to listening to all the voices of the community at a public hearing.”
Swain said the Clark/Medd project is “becoming divisive” and suggested the intent of his motion was to try to find a compromise before a public hearing.
“Just putting this on the agenda created divisiveness and I’m not sure why the will of council to go to a public hearing wasn’t respected,” said Proctor.
Swain’s motion failed 3-2 with Geselbracht, Wilson and Proctor opposed.