Congestion at the Highway 99 underpass on 32 Avenue was among areas of concern raised at Surrey council this month

Congestion at the Highway 99 underpass on 32 Avenue was among areas of concern raised at Surrey council this month

Council wary of congestion in South Surrey’s Rosemary Heights

Subdivision proposal greeted with concern from elected officials

Overcapacity schools and congested roads in South Surrey’s Rosemary Heights neighbourhood prompted council to send back to staff a request for bylaw amendments that would facilitate subdividing one lot into three.

In voicing unanimous support for a motion by Coun. Tom Gill to refer the application for 3624 156 St. back, councillors described the lack of school space as “a real issue,” and traffic congestion around 32 Avenue and 152 Street as “making the area pretty unlivable for people that have to commute in and out.”

“Quite frankly, I don’t support any development right in this area at the moment,” Coun. Dave Woods said. “That whole area is seriously congested. Until there’s an upgrade to that underpass, it’s only going to get worse.”

The comments followed a Feb. 6 public hearing on the application, during which several residents called on council to either reject it or send it for revision to provide opportunity for consultation with neighbours and other stakeholders.

“Densification is fine and necessary, but it should be controlled,” said area resident John Kovach.

“Don’t make this one particular parcel the beginning of the end of our neighbourhood. Make this the end of the beginning of our discussion. That’s all I’m asking.”

According to city documents, the applicant has requested an amendment to Surrey’s official community plan to designate the property ‘urban’ from ‘suburban.’ An amendment to the neighbourhood concept plan is also requested for the lot, to ‘transitional single family residential (five units per acre max)’ from ‘suburban ½-acre residential,’ as well as rezoning to comprehensive development.

Residents who spoke in support of the proposal included one man who described it as “something that blends in completely” with the neighbourhood, and another who said it will increase affordability and the tax base.

Another man – who identified himself as  a real estate agent who lives in White Rock – described it as the type of development people are looking for. The added street lighting and sidewalks “would make it safer and brighter” for children walking to school, he added.

Project agent Mike Kompter, with HUB Engineering, told council “a lot” of the opposition for the application has come from property owners who don’t live in the neighbourhood.

The interest in subdividing is not limited to the one application, he added, noting seven other properties in the area are being eyed for the same transitional zoning.

Gill, citing “some angst,” suggested a concept plan for the remaining lots is needed, to give an idea of how the land might be developed.

Coun. Bruce Hayne agreed, citing the eventual rezoning of land at 3690 152 St. – former home of the Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre – and a need to “make logical choices for decades to come.”

Council’s decision to send the project back to staff met with applause.