LPAT hearing begins for proposed downtown Kingston Homestead buildings
It was standing room only in Kingston’s council chambers on Monday, the first day of hearings for the appeal of two proposed downtown developments.
The developer of the two planned buildings Homestead Land Holdings appealed its own projects in 2017 with the Ontario Municipal Board — which was replaced last year by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) — claiming the City of Kingston was taking too long to decide on whether to let them build.
Homestead is seeking Kingston’s Official Plan and zoning bylaws be amended to allow for more height and density in its proposed developments.
The buildings are set to be built in the North Block area of the downtown at 51-57 Queen Street and 18 Queen Street-282 Ontario Street. The area is currently used as municipal parking lots.
When first proposed, the buildings would have been respectively 17- and 19-storeys high. After a redesign meant to produce thinner buildings, the towers would potentially stand 19- and 23-storeys high.
In September 2018, city council struck a deal with Homestead approving the revised plans.
It will be LPAT, though, that will seal the fate of the development, and if recent history is a good indicator of things to come, they may not decide in Homestead’s favour.
After long deliberations, Kingston’s proposed Capitol Condo project, which was slated to rise 16-storeys high, was denied by the appeal tribunal in November.
This appeal was launched by a group of citizens worried that the tall building would stand out like a sore thumb against Princess Street’s historic buildings, something Kingston’s Official Plan was designed to avoid.
In their decision on the Capitol Condo project, the tribunal used the guidelines set in place in the city’s Official Plan and zoning bylaws to keep heritage core intact and free from that particular high-rise.
Frontenac Heritage Foundation appealed the Capitol Condo project and are now the official opposition to Homestead’s twin buildings.
A lawyer for the Frontenac Heritage Foundation, David Donnelly, said this development should be seen much like the project recently shot down by the appeal tribunal.
“The same policies apply. The contexts are slightly different: instead of being an old theatre, they are parking lots. The impact, the visual impact, on downtown Kingston will be the same or even worse.”
On the first day of the hearing, more than 20 people showed up to council chambers to put their names down as citizen participants. Although not all were opposed to the development, it seemed many were, including former MPP for the region and mayor of Kingston John Gerretsen, as well as Vicki Schmolka, who ran and lost in the last municipal election, on the basis of holding developers to the city’s Official Plan.
Nevertheless, the development has the support of council and many others in the city.
“We believe that it will strengthen our downtown, provide more vibrancy, more citizens living downtown will make it a much more economically developed area,” said Karen Cross, executive director of The Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce.
The hearing is set to last for two weeks during the day, but because of the number of citizens who wanted to say their piece, the tribunal set two additional evenings to hear from them.
Representatives from Homestead refused to comment for this story.
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