A suspect device was found on Cavehill Road on Monday evening outside a family's home and close to the back of Antrim Road police station.
Police sealed off part of the road between Antrim Road and Willowbank Gardens, and evacuated over 30 houses, while the area was made safe. It has since reopened.
Mick Conlon, whose relatives live in the area, was chatting to a friend when they spotted the suspicious object.
"We noticed what was like a soup carton with black electric tape around it and some wires protruding," the former Sinn Féin councillor said.
They contacted the police and army bomb experts later carried out a controlled explosion.
Mr Conlon said residents of all ages had been evacuated.
Conor Maskey, the local Sinn Féin councillor, said people were angry and frustrated.
"It's a nightmare for them on a cold February night," he added.
A nearby Presbyterian church was made available to evacuated residents while the alert was ongoing.