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An artist's rendering shows the current design for Spirit Place. ((Spirit Place))

A proposal for a seniors complex that will focus on welcoming gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered seniors will be debated by the public, Halifax Regional Council decided Tuesday.

The seven-storey development, proposed for the site of the vacant St. John's United Church on the corner of Windsor and Willow streets in Halifax, has been dubbed Spirit Place.

On Tuesday night, regional councillors discussed the height and scope of the project — a redeveloped church and 65 apartments for seniors — and expressed concerns, but ultimately voted to go ahead with public consultations.

Coun. Dawn Sloane said the current project is too big and should be redesigned. She said the size of the building will devalue existing homes in the area.

"Should they be impacted to the point where they may not have sunlight in their backyard, or parking becomes a real hassle in their neighbourhood because of people visiting?" she asked.

Councillors said they had received petitions both for and against the proposal.

Louisa Horne, a Spirit Place board member, said she's upset that some councillors argued against the proposal.

"The petition opposed to the project had something in the order of 100 names, the one in support had over 700," she told CBC News on Wednesday.

"The way that Halifax seems to work around development, it doesn't take very many people to be opposed to something for it to be slowed down."

Horne said the plans for Spirit Place have already been changed several times to accommodate opponents of the project, but the idea continues to generate controversy.

"Overall, we've heard all the way along with this project that people have had concerns about the structure itself and about the nature of the facility and the affirming nature of the facility," said Horne.

"All of those things give people cause to question and that's fine to have that public dialogue."

A date for the public hearing has not yet been set.