Application by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects on behalf of a property owner, requesting to enter into a heritage development agreement on lands at 10 Kirk Road, Halifax (PIDs 00280263 and 00280115) to permit a 15-unit bare land condominium on a registered heritage property.
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a heritage development agreement?
A development agreement is a contract between the landowner and the municipality which says how a piece of land can be used and may include details around land use, building design, the layout of streets and roads and the density of various land uses. A heritage development agreement is a type of development agreement for which any owner of a registered heritage property can apply. This contract is registered on title and, if the land is sold, all future owners will be responsible for the content of the agreement. Development agreements can be approved by Community Council as long as the proposal meets the policy guidelines within the held within local planning policy documents (the Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS)).
What do heritage development agreements allow and why do they exist?
Heritage development agreements allow a property owner to apply to enter into a development agreement to permit them to build a use or building that may not otherwise be permitted in the Land Use By-law. Property owners are required to undertake restoration of the heritage property/building and ongoing maintenance, in exchange for the additional development rights they may get through the development agreement. These development agreements are available to:
- Help increase the financial viability of owning, maintaining, and using a heritage property, given that the age of such properties often makes them more cumbersome to maintain; and,
- Help to incentivise property owners away from demolishing their heritage property, and instead to restoring it in exchange for added development rights.
- Help to add housing density to well-serviced (e.g., municipal water and sewer, transit, etc.) neighbourhoods, which is needed as the Municipality grows, while also retaining our built heritage.
Are the existing streets designed for the additional traffic proposed by the development?
The existing streets in the vicinity of the proposed development (Kirk Road, Parkhill Road, McManus Road, and Albion Road) are all historical streets in the Jollimore neighbourhood which are classified as local streets under the municipal engineering regulations. New local streets are designed to accommodate up to 3,000 vehicles per day, and those built in Jollimore in most locations do not significantly differ from the new Local Street Standards. Existing traffic volumes are considered low (historic traffic volumes have shown averages from 650-700 average daily trips (ADT) on Parkhill Road and adjacent local streets), meaning that these streets are at 20-25% capacity.
The addendum to the traffic impact statement submitted by the applicant estimates, using the trip generation data from Trip Generation, 11th Edition (Institute of Transportation Engineers, 2021), that the proposed development will generate 11 vehicle trips during the AM peak hour and 14 vehicle trips during the PM peak hour. Given the existing low traffic volumes on these local streets (about 25% capacity) and the extremely low number of estimated added trips, the additional traffic proposed by the development is not anticipated to have a noteworthy impact on the existing streets.
Staff have also worked with fire and emergency services to perform site visits to ensure accessibility for service vehicles. Both departments have not requested that any improvements be made adequately access the site of the proposed development.
What policy does the applicant need to meet in order to be considered for a development agreement?
The heritage development agreement policies in the Municipal Planning Strategies in HRM (and in the Regional Plan) require an applicant, at the very least, to:
- Submit a site plan showing the location of planned buildings, the heritage building, and any relevant landscaping features.
- Submit a Heritage Impact Statement outlining the heritage value of the property and the planned rehabilitation, restoration of the property. This also often includes anticipated impacts of the proposed development.
- Submit a traffic impact statement that, to the satisfaction of the municipal engineer, states that the development will not result in undue pressure on the existing road network.
An applicant can apply for any use or built form that is not permitted under the Land Use By-law through this development agreement, however staff often encourage potential applicants to submit uses or built forms that are considered compatible with the existing neighbourhood. This does not mean the proposal must match the existing neighbourhood exactly but means that it would be similar enough in use or form that it would not take away from the existing neighbourhood. For example, in a community of largely single- or two-unit dwellings, the applicant would be encouraged to do other single- or two-unit dwellings, or a compatible built form such as townhouses.
What is allowed on the site right now?
The subject property is zoned R-1 under the Halifax Mainland Land Use By-law. There is an existing Development Agreement (DA) registered to the site that permits a similar development to that proposed. This DA was registered in 2012 and permits ten single-unit dwellings, one two-unit dwelling, in addition to the registered heritage house (for a total of 14 dwelling units) on the subject site. Due to changes in ownership of the property and the expiry of the existing Development Agreement, staff recommended that the property owner apply for a new DA that would be substantially the same as the initial DA, but which would address the new property owners’ desired changes to the site plan.
If the current Development Agreement is not granted approval by Council, the property owner could apply to extend existing development agreement and determine to develop the property per the terms of the existing development agreement, or could use the site as permitted by the Land Use By-law.
What is a traffic study, who prepares them, and how does HRM review them?
Traffic studies or statements are written at the expense of the applicant by professional engineers. These studies are submitted at the start of the planning application process and give HRM engineers a sense of how a project might impact the surrounding streets both from a safety and capacity perspective. Once submitted, studies are reviewed by HRM engineers to ensure they meet HRM policies, and that the findings in the report are supported by the evidence provided. Any needed changes to the study are outlined for the applicant, and this work continues until both sides are in agreement. The traffic study is then used to decide on any upgrades or changes to the surrounding streets that may be required if the impact of the anticipated increase in Average Daily Trips (ADT) is considered significant or may significantly impact the existing capacity of the adjacent streets.
What’s the role of the planner in the planning application process?
The central role of HRM’s planning staff in the planning application process is to compare an application against any Council approved policy and regulation that may apply and make a recommendation to Council for their final decision. As part of this process, HRM staff circulate applications to subject matter experts both within its organization (ie: Parks and Recreation, Development Engineering, Traffic Services, etc.) as well as external to its organization (ie: Halifax Water, Nova Scotia Power, Halifax Regional Centre for Education, etc.). Planning staff also reach out to members of the community that may be impacted by the proposal to seek their community expertise and opinions as to how the proposal would fit in. All of this information is taken into account when a recommendation to Council is made. Planning staff are available to answer questions and address concerns about both the technical details of a project, as well as the planning process itself.
What’s the role of the Councillor in the planning application process?
Council’s role in the planning process is to hear from and understand the opinions of the community, consider the policies and regulations that may apply to an application, and make the final decision of approval, approval with conditions, or refusal in the public forum of a Council meeting. While Council has significant latitude in writing the policies and regulations that they feel will guide the growth and development of HRM communities, Council too must follow these policies in making their decisions, ensuring that decisions of planning applications reasonably carry out the intent of the Municipal Planning Strategy.
How are construction activities monitored and regulated in the Municipality?
Construction activities in the Municipality are administered through several bylaws, which regulate various aspects of the construction process:
(i) Blasting By-law B-600: Outlines minimum standards permitted when blasting within the Municipality. All blasting activities require a Blasting Permit from HRM.
(ii) Grade Alteration and Stormwater Management Associated With Land Development: G-200 Applies to the grade alteration and Stormwater Management of the land.
(iii) Construction Management Administrative Order 2018-05-ADM: Outlines best management practices for development of sites in proximity to public streets.
(iv) Noise By-Law N-200: States that construction noise activity is permitted between the hours of 7:00am - 9:30 pm on week days, 8:00am-7:00pm on Saturdays, and 9:00 am-7:00 pm on Sundays, Statutory Holidays, Civic Holidays and Remembrance Day.
(v) Truck Routes By-Law T-400: Controls the routes trucks must use and how trucks access a given site. This by-law applies to trucks used for hauling construction material and commercially uses as well (i.e. moving vans, deliveries, etc.).
10 Kirk Road, Halifax, also known by its Gaelic name, Finntigh Mara, was registered as a heritage property in 2010. The property is an early 20th century estate located in the historic Jollimore community on the shores of the North West Arm. The primary heritage resource on the site is the original Arts and Crafts style house, which is circa 1914-16, but the property is also complemented by a series of landscape features including the Roost (an outbuilding), stone retaining walls throughout, stands of trees, an in-ground pool, and a rhododendron garden. Another key feature is the view from the main house on the property to the North West Arm.
Finntigh Mara is an outstanding example of an Arts and Crafts style house, a popular architectural style between 1910-1930. The home was designed in 1914 by W.M. Brown, a prominent architect, for Dr. R.E. Mathers. The house is situated approximately halfway between the North West Arm and Kirk Road on the property, and is characterized as a 1.5-storey wood-framed Arts & Crafts (also known as Craftsman) bungalow. Character-defining elements of the home include, but are not limited to:
- Arts & Crafts bungalow style home;
- Wood-framed construction;
- Stone detailing, including three coursed rubble columns on the eastern porch and stone steps leading to the eastern porch;
- Wood shingle siding;
- Four twenty-one glazed panel doors on the east elevation, with one double door and three doors flanked by six-over-six wood-framed single sash windows;
- Low-pitched roof with wide eaves and triangular brackets;
- Exposed roof rafters;
- Low-pitched pedimented dormer on the second storey (added in the 1980s but sympathetic to the original architecture).
There were two additions made to the building during the 1960s and 1980s, which created a secondary structure located on the south side of the house known as the “annex”. This addition to the house is not considered original nor character-defining.
The property also contains three outbuildings, known as “the Roost”, “the Pool Shanty”, and “the Gatehouse”. Upon review by HRM building officials in 2022, it was determined that the Pool Shanty and the Gatehouse are in a serious state of disrepair and would require extensive intervention and renovation to be brought up to Building Code standards, which could compromise the structures. As these out-buildings were not considered Character-Defining Elements on the property registration, heritage staff gave permission for the applicant to apply for a demolition permit for both the Pool Shanty and the Gatehouse. The applicant intends to restore and retain the outbuilding known as the Roost.
The applicant has applied to enter into a Development Agreement on the property to permit a 14-unit bare land condominium on a registered heritage property. This development agreement is being sought in accordance with Policy 6.8 of the Halifax Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy (Halifax SMPS), which permits Council to consider a development agreement on any lot containing a registered heritage building that exceeds the requirements of the underlying zone in order to encourage the preservation and adaptive re-use of registered heritage buildings.
A key element of the proposal is the restoration and continued conservation of the registered heritage building and several landscape features. The restored building will be incorporated into the new condominium neighbourhood as one of the buildings on the site. The site will feature 14 single dwelling units in addition to the heritage building, pedestrian circulation, access to the pool and waterfront amenity areas, and landscaping and buffering.
If approved, the development agreement would allow the property owner to:
- Create a bare land condominium with fourteen (14) building sites to be sold to individual buyers, in addition to the existing site for the restored Finntigh Mara house. This includes a total of 15 bare land condominium lots.
If approved, the development agreement would require the property owner to:
- Restore the registered heritage building at Finntigh Mara to its original form and design, including:
- the restoration of original architectural features that have been removed;
- the removal of 1980s annex;
- the rehabilitation of character-defining elements which have fallen into disrepair, such as windows, doors, structural elements, porch steps, etc.
- Undertake landscaping work to restore and enhance the existing landscaping, including retaining the rhododendron garden, repairing the in-ground pool, improving waterfront access for future residents, and restoring stone walls across the property;
- Follow specific building control parameters on each of the 14 building sites, which will include such controls as height, mass, architectural design, lot coverage, and others.
The applicant’s proposal also requires a second application which staff are processing concurrently – a substantial alteration application. This type of application is a heritage-focused application which is required by the Nova Scotia Heritage Property Act when significant changes are proposed to a registered heritage property. The substantial alterations must be reviewed by HRM’s Heritage Advisory Committee and approved by Regional Council.
Both applications must be approved before the applicant can pursue the proposed development.
The application is being considered under existing policy, Policy 6.8 in the Halifax Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS). This policy permits owners of registered heritage properties to apply to enter into a development agreement on a property containing a registered heritage building, to permit uses and/or developments that are not otherwise permitted in the land use by-law. The intent of this Policy is to encourage the retention of heritage resources while allowing for growth to help meet the demand for housing and services.
Development agreements are discretionary applications, meaning that they require the approval of Council to proceed. Staff are currently reviewing the development agreement application and will ultimately prepare a recommendation for Regional Council to consider. Before Regional Council can make any decision about the proposal, a public open house and a public hearing shall be held. This document outlines the process and public engagement requirements for a development agreement.
Staff are simultaneously processing an application to substantially alter the main house at Finntigh Mara. In accordance with the Nova Scotia Heritage Property Act, a substantial alteration application must be reviewed by the Heritage Advisory Committee and approved by Regional Council before any registered heritage property is substantially altered.
A public information meeting was held on February 23, 2023. View a summary of the meeting notes.
At their July 26, 2023, meeting, the Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC) recommended that Regional Council approve the substantial alteration application for 10 Kirk Road being processed under H00528. The HAC agenda, minutes and video can be viewed here. The substantial alteration was approved by Regional Council at their August 22, 2023, meeting. The minutes can be viewed here.
Documents Submitted for Evaluation
The applicant has submitted plans and studies required by municipal staff to properly evaluate the application. The details of this application may change before consideration or approval by Regional Council. Updates or changes to the application will be posted on this website.
A – Site Plan (Updated April 2023)
B – Heritage Impact Statement
C – Land Survey
D – Original Traffic Impact Statement (2010)
E - Addendum to Traffic Impact Statement (2022)
F – Preliminary Servicing Schematic
G - Review of Standards and Guidelines for Heritage
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