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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2014, 4:23 AM
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Dmajackson Dmajackson is offline
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'Urban Reserve' Zone

counterfactual mentioned this in another thread but seeing how it was off-topic there but has the potential to drastically change the Regional Plan I think the topic is better suited here.

The debate is about the worth of having an 'Urban Reserve' zone. This zone applies to nine areas of HRM currently outside the service boundary. The purpose of this zone is to prohibit suburban expansion in a piece-meal fashion within the life of the Regional Plan. Subdividing properties is in any major fashion is prohibited effectively removing the potential for suburban encroachment. The theory is these lands will be rezoned 'Urban Settlement' when the amount of land currently in that category dwindles.

Specifically what prompted this discussion is a letter from a group of ten landowners on the Chebucto Peninsula who own a large tracts of land off of Purcells Cove Road in/around Williams Lake / RNSYS. They are seeking an amendment as part of RP+5 to have their lands rezoned 'Rural Commuter' (like Waverley, Hammonds Plains, Tantallon are) to allow for the option of waiting out the existing zoning (their estimate is 50 years) or to allow for exurban style growth with no municipal water services.

The letter is available below. As a result of this letter Regional Council voted to defer the debate on RP+5 until May to address this situation.

http://www.halifax.ca/council/agenda...11ca-rp-15.pdf




Personally I think the 'Urban Reserve' zoning should stick. Here's why;

1) The current land inventory in the 'Urban Settlement' zone is plentiful. Even with high growth targets this land will last for a long time.

2) Geographically speaking this land is close to downtown HOWEVER this is 'as a crow flies' distance and does not take into account the long detour north needed to access the Peninsula.

3) Traffic wise this would be a disaster. The Armdale Roundabout and Purcells Cove Road cannot handle this much more traffic. A Northwest Arm Bridge would be required and this would cost the residents of HRM millions of dollars.

4) In addition to a lack of a Northwest Arm Bridge there is also a lack of an expressway nearby to handle inter-regional traffic (ie heading to the airport). Without this connection just heading out of town would be a painful tasks for residents and would either involve short-cutting through neighbourhoods or going Purcells Cove - Armdale Roundabout - Joseph Howe - Highway 102.

5) Greenbelting. I believe in the value of having a greenbelt around suburban HRM. I don't not want places like Herring Cove to become just another suburb and the best way to do this is protective zoning and having a visual green-space separating the two. Until the tract of land can be decided upon outward expansion like this should be prohibited.
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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2014, 5:18 AM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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We have a similar zoning here in Calgary - S-FUD (Special Purpose - Future Urban Development District). It's my favorite because I can say FUD haha.

But it allows a limited amount of development (mostly temporary uses) but it does allow single detached dwellings on a VERY limited basis (if I recall correctly it grandfathers any existing farmsteads/acerage housing too since S-FUD typically gets applied to newly annexed land from the adjacent county). There are limited instances of S-FUD though in the urban area of the City where we didn't know what to transition the zoning to from the old bylaw and the new bylaw (which created S-FUD) in 2007.
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Old Posted Feb 26, 2014, 11:38 AM
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If HRM wants to turn this into an urban reserve of what amounts to a wilderness park, they really have only one choice - purchase it at a fair price from the landowners.

The rights of property owners should not be taken away by a municipal process that can get highjacked by an anti-development lobby group.

This is just the much-ballyhooed "greenbelting" by another name. It should not proceed.
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Old Posted Feb 26, 2014, 12:15 PM
ILoveHalifax ILoveHalifax is offline
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I think it would be good for the whole city if this land were developed. It is not really that far from the core. The fact that it might force a North West Arm bridge would do a lot to open up the south end of the peninsula.
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  #5  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2014, 2:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
If HRM wants to turn this into an urban reserve of what amounts to a wilderness park, they really have only one choice - purchase it at a fair price from the landowners.

The rights of property owners should not be taken away by a municipal process that can get highjacked by an anti-development lobby group.

This is just the much-ballyhooed "greenbelting" by another name. It should not proceed.
My understanding is that the friends of Williams Lake have been successful in having all of the land that is currently undeveloped around the lake designated as an urban greenbelt. Clayton Developments and at least one other property owner on the lake have met with the mayor and he informed them that he wants the greenbelt to go ahead. There is no compensation to any landowner.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2014, 2:39 AM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Yeah, it's really not far from the core--if the Arm wasn't there you could walk from there to Dal in like, 20 minutes. But whether it's far or not, for the health of the city, infilling needs to be prioritized over greenfield building.

Plus, it's an incredibly rare thing in this country, and a huge civic asset, to have such heavily wooded areas so close to the core.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2014, 3:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
But whether it's far or not, for the health of the city, infilling needs to be prioritized over greenfield building.
It's not an all-or-nothing proposition though. It is good to aim for a high percentage of infill but the population is growing and more land is going to be needed.

It's also worth noting that there is a huge provincial wilderness area that is already protected (Long Lake-Terence Bay) right next to this land. I think this is more NIMBYism than anything else, and it will result in greenfield development farther away from the core, not more infill. If the people in this neighbourhood really cared about good regional planning they'd be clamoring for transit, not leap-frog sprawl.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2014, 4:11 PM
IanWatson IanWatson is offline
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If we want this land for recreation purposes then the city or a conservation group should indeed acquire the land by purchase and/or the lands contribution through the subdivision process.

BUT, I think that issue is really a distraction from the root concern here. Municipal staff reports that we have enough land within currently developable areas to accommodate decades of demand*. It seems VERY short sighted to extend services to land we don't need (and no, these services are not a "gift" from the developers - they are a liability). Turning this down would not be about greenbelting, it would be the fiscally responsible thing for Council to do.

Quote:
The rights of property owners should not be taken away by a municipal process
The property owners currently have rights under the urban reserve zone. Nothing is being taken away. Clayton knew the zoning when they bought the property, and now are trying to bully Council into making their land speculation play out. Council is in no way obligated to bow to that.

*And this is likely assuming growth at current rates, but once HRM has denuded the rest of the province of population I can't really see where that growth is coming from.
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Old Posted Feb 28, 2014, 1:35 AM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
It's not an all-or-nothing proposition though. It is good to aim for a high percentage of infill but the population is growing and more land is going to be needed.

It's also worth noting that there is a huge provincial wilderness area that is already protected (Long Lake-Terence Bay) right next to this land. I think this is more NIMBYism than anything else, and it will result in greenfield development farther away from the core, not more infill. If the people in this neighbourhood really cared about good regional planning they'd be clamoring for transit, not leap-frog sprawl.
Didn't think of the leapfrog potential--entirely imaginable, since this is quite close to the core and leapfrogging it would be no big deal at all for an auto-centric commuter suburb.
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2014, 2:49 PM
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The Urban Reserve isn't a proposal, it is a fact - it was passed in 2006. It is a downzoning to existing rights, rather than a taking of rights - owners can still build a home and have in some cases limited right to subdivide.

From the 2006 plan - "S-4 HRM shall establish the Urban Reserve Designation for those lands situated outside the Urban Settlement Designation where central services (municipal wastewater and water distribution) may eventually be provided, as shown on the Generalized Future Land Use Map (Map 2). The primary intent of this designation shall be to retain sufficient lands which shall provide an adequate supply of serviceable land beyond the time horizon of this Plan. "

The zoning is: "No development permit shall be issued in any UR (Urban Reserve) Zone except for
the following:

Single unit dwellings, on existing lots provided that a private on-site sewage disposal
system and well are provided on the lot
Passive recreation uses
Uses accessory to the foregoing uses"

There is no legal requirement to purchase the land and compensate, this fight went to the Supreme Court over the Vancouver Agricultural Belt in the 70s, and the right to downzone and control like this was upheld.

The Purcell's Cove Backlands folks want it as park - I would suggest that in that case it would need to be purchased. That is not what the plan is right now. The plan is to hold the land to between 2026-31.
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  #11  
Old Posted Mar 3, 2014, 3:52 PM
eastcoastal eastcoastal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax View Post
I think it would be good for the whole city if this land were developed. It is not really that far from the core. The fact that it might force a North West Arm bridge would do a lot to open up the south end of the peninsula.
It's off the peninsula, so I think it should stay reserve for now. The city has been WAY below its targets for the proportion of new residents within the peninsula, and I think it would be bad for us all if this land were to be developed at a significant scale.
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  #12  
Old Posted Mar 3, 2014, 9:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waye Mason View Post
The Purcell's Cove Backlands folks want it as park - I would suggest that in that case it would need to be purchased. That is not what the plan is right now. The plan is to hold the land to between 2026-31.
Once again the EAC and their band of enviro-crazies hold HRM hostage.

I hope the property owners erect a large fence topped with barbed wire around the property and post it with large, unsightly "No Trespassing" signs.
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  #13  
Old Posted Mar 4, 2014, 2:16 AM
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Waye Mason Waye Mason is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Once again the EAC and their band of enviro-crazies hold HRM hostage.

I hope the property owners erect a large fence topped with barbed wire around the property and post it with large, unsightly "No Trespassing" signs.
What does EAC have to do with this? It was enabled by John Hamm's conservative government in 2006, for god sake. Reserving lands for future use is what municipal governments do, it is a key land use and growth management tool.
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