News / Halifax

Developer signals legal action after Halifax council votes down Willow Tree height change

APL Properties Limited originally proposed a 29-storey residential and commercial development for the corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street.

Unlike its namesake, a new development at the Willow Tree is likely to “die a natural death” after a vote by Halifax regional council left it in limbo.

But the developer is signalling it will take the matter to the courts.

APL Properties Limited originally proposed a 29-storey residential and commercial development for the corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street.

Last year, council approved bylaw amendments to give APL the full 29 storeys, even though staff recommended capping it at 20. After last year’s election, the new council voted to bring the height in line with that original staff recommendation, and to schedule a public hearing on the development.

Municipal staff wrote in a report to council that the developer delayed the public hearing, and then told municipal planning staff it can’t make a business case for 20 storeys. APL proposed 25 storeys instead.

After hours of debate and procedural manoeuvres, council voted against an amendment to give the developer just that.

According to CAO Jacques Dubé, that means a new development won’t happen at all. He said APL will likely renovate the existing structure on the site, a 10 storey office building.

“Six months will go by, and the file will die a natural death at the end of that six month period,” Dubé told council during debate.

Coun. Shawn Cleary pushed for council to reverse its earlier decision to limit the development to 20 storeys, arguing the current structure is ugly, and the area needs the density.

Legal staff told council the vote required a two-thirds majority vote from council, because it reversed an earlier decision. The vote was 9-8.

“It was our understanding from communications with staff, prior to the meeting tonight, that a simple majority was needed to pass the motion for 25 stories. The motion for 25 received the majority and should have passed,” APL spokesperson Adam McLean said in an emailed statement to Metro.

“HRM Legal had a different opinion during the debate and indicated 2/3 was required. We can’t comment on the matter further as this is now for legal discussion.”

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