By Mike Williscraft
A proposed 92-unit condo development targeted for downtown Grimsby was sent back to the drawing board Monday night.
A 4-4 tied vote at the council table, with Ald. Steve Berry not in attendance, on Official Plan and bylaw amendments means the contentious project will go back to Planning Committee for further tweaks.
Despite only two members of the current council returning for the new incarnation, in its swan song
session, council was poised to approve the much-debated proposal, this despite the recommendation of planning staff and the CEO to simply accept the information as received and leave the matter for the new council.
Several delegations addressed the issue, including Homes By DeSantis’s consultant, John Ariens, who said the 92-unit project was “fully compliant with the Official Plan”, a point of contention due to a fifth storey across the back of the property. The height allowed is four storeys.
“We hope this will set a desirable precedent,” said Ariens of the project.
Randy Vaine, an alderman-elect, spoke to the matter as a delegate, asking council to simply set the matter aside.”
“There is a workable design out there,” said Vaine, adding the incoming group is looking forward to working with developer Gabe DeSantis to see the project through.
Ald. John Dunstall questioned Vaine on what he thought was wrong with the current plan.
Vaine noted traffic planning, density, parking allotment and lack of input from the heritage committee on proposed design as a few of the key areas of concern.
If the initial motion to move the project to the next level, recommended by the planning committee after a public meeting Nov. 13, fell short, Ariens and a lawyer representing DeSantis presented an alternative motion they suggested may be more to council’s liking.
Not only did council not like that motion, CAO Derik Brandt told council there was an error in the document and no staff had had time to vet it.
“The bylaw that the resolution proposed be adopted was prepared by SGL Planning & Design Inc. I’d have very significant objections to Council approving a bylaw written by an outside group that has never been reviewed by staff,” said Brandt on Tuesday.
While Ald. Nick DiFlavio lobbied hard for the motion, saying, “It’s not a perfect plan, but I like it,” the motion did not survive.
In the recorded vote John Dunstall, Joanne Johnston, Dave Kadwell and Dave Wilson voted against the proposal.
DiFlavio, Carolyn Mullins, Michelle Seaborn and Mayor Bob Bentley, who voted last to tie the vote, voted in favour.
“The motion is defeated. It’s a tie,” said Bentley, who added the motion submitted by the developer “…is a recommendation we cannot do tonight. This one is not appropriate at this time.”
The matter goes back to planning committee for revisions on key points of contention before it comes back to council.