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Committee rejects condo proposal for vacant Charleswood land

Residents are anti-development, Nisum CEO says

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Nick Pavel, CEO of Nisum Developments, feels that residents surrounding his Charleswood property are anti-development.

"The community is against development, period," said Pavel, shortly after a public hearing at the Assiniboia community committee April 9 that ended with a recommendation that his rezoning request for a proposed housing development at 541 Elmhurst Road be rejected.

Several members of the public spoke against Pavel’s proposal, which was for a private, managed community of 12 single-family homes on 1.1 acres selling for $394,000 each.

Most of them said they weren’t against development, but felt the proposed community would affect their privacy and threaten the rural atmosphere that larger lots give to Charleswood.

"Their opposition is not to the development of the land," said lawyer C.L. Chappell, who told the hearing he was representing several residents opposed to the development.

"It’s always been large lots in Charleswood, that’s what these people have come to expect."

Larry Silver, architect for Pavel’s development, said Pavel is responding to "market pressure" by an aging Charleswood population that wants to downsize but remain in the community.
Silver said fears that the development would drive down area property values or attract a transient element to the community are "myths."

Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, in explaining her vote, told the hearing that she could live with a few residents opposing a development, but the opposition in this case was too great.

"How can you come before us and ask to proceed? How can you explain the lack of buy-in?" Havixbeck asked Silver, who was named as the applicant.

"They’ve been misinformed about the project being high-density," Silver replied.

Of the people who represented themselves at the hearing, 56 individuals or groups were in support and 94 were opposed. Only a few people chose to speak at the hearing, though Havixbeck ran through the list to a show of hands from the gallery. Petitions received claiming to be from area residents opposed to the development totalled more than 100 signatures.

The committee heard a city planner in attendance say the city prefers to stick to  "shadow plans" that were created by the city in the ‘80s as a guideline for undeveloped lands in Charleswood.

A current revised shadow plan calls for Apex Street to be extended north and then turn east to connect with Cathcart Street. Pavel told The Metro that plan, which would provide him only six lots, would be acceptable to him if some of the other affected landowners would help pay for the $670,000 road extension.

"I’m willing to build the shadow plan tomorrow if everybody contributes to that road," he said, adding he doesn’t believe anybody will contribute.

Silver said it’s the fourth concept and design change they have done to their plans in response to feedback from the city and residents. He agreed with Pavel’s assessment that the residents are against development.

"And that’s why the land will sit empty for another 30 years," Silver said.

Plans for the lot changed from a previous design for a 29-unit condominium complex that was shown to residents at an open house last November, which Pavel said only 14 people attended.

Pavel said he’s open to speaking with any residents about their concerns, and recently sent out thousands of flyers detailing the development and inviting people to phone him. He says nobody did.

"For some reason the Charleswood people are complaining (about the development) no matter what. They are against development."

Pavel said he now plans to have his lawyer speak to the lawyer representing some of the residents to see if they can find a way forward, possibly implementing the shadow plan, which would not require rezoning the land as multi-family.

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Twitter: @metroWPG

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