A proposal to subdivide two lots to build a dozen single-family homes in South Surrey’s McNally Creek neighbourhood is an example of the challenges council has in dealing with infill lands, the city’s mayor said.
“It’s very, very difficult for council to make a decision on these infills… where a neighbourhood is pretty well developed and yet there is pieces left that council has to deal with,” Mayor Doug McCallum said, in commenting at last Monday’s (Sept. 13) council meeting on an application for property at 974 and 958 160 St.
“I fully realize the community doesn’t like it,” he said of the plan for 12 homes on lots that are markedly smaller than what currently exist. “I know people feel fairly strongly that it should go down to 10, but… I think you’re going to find that this will fit in when it’s built.
“I think it’s a project that’s needed in the community.”
Council voted 6-3 Sept. 13 in favour of rezoning that would permit the smaller lot sizes, as well as a development variance permit that was sought to reduce the minimum lot depth required for 11 of the 12 lots.
It was at least the third revision of the application, which was previously submitted as a plan for 14 homes; prior to that, the plan was for a combination of townhouses and single-family homes.
At a public hearing held earlier the same evening, council heard from more than three dozen people, including many who already call the neighbourhood home and don’t want to see it changed – or at least not to the degree proposed – as well as others who expressed an interest in moving there should the project proceed.
Those in favour cited reasons including a desire to live closer to other family members who already call the area home; the affordability of the smaller lots; and that it would “renew and revitalize” the area.
Those opposed said it would change the neighbourhood that they bought into based on the established zoning; increase traffic, noise and safety concerns; and set a “major precedent” for adjacent properties.
As well, opponents said a plan to connect their unfinished cul-de-sac to a new east-west road, 9A Avenue – towards which all of the new lots would be oriented – is also problematic, contending that council “has a duty” to finish the cul-de-sac.
The through street “is an accident waiting to happen,” Karen Loveys told council.
With regard to affordability, opponents contended the new lots “will be more expensive than anything (that prospective homeowners) could’ve bought here three years ago.”
Supporters, however, said the proposed development presented a “prime opportunity” for more attainable pricing, including for young families and the “hard-working middle-class.”
An agent for the developer told council “we have and we always will work with the neighbourhood” on concerns. A July 26 planning report notes the proponent elected to remove the application from the May 31 council meeting to do just that.
However, McCallum noted at the Sept. 13 meeting that “I was the one that pulled this project from council, because I felt we needed to work with the community more, when it was at 14.”
The agent noted the through road is proposed for emergency-vehicle-access only, and that the development itself would only be accessed from 160 Street.
In addition to those who attended or dialed in to speak on Sept. 13, the city received 51 written submissions ahead of the hearing, 50 of which expressed opposition. Two petitions opposing the development were also received, one with 357 signatures, the other with eight. A further 14 people – 13 opposed and one in support – registered their opinions but did not want to speak, the city clerk told council.
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