A running shoe is used to illustrate the size of trees that were cut down on three lots in Ocean Park last week. Below

Downzoning idea branching out in Ocean Park

Ocean Park neighbours look for ways to prevent 'monster homes' and protect trees.

The recent success of Ocean Park residents in securing “downzoning” that limits the height and size of new housing in their neighbourhood has others who live nearby hopeful they can achieve similar changes in their own micro-communities – and that the trend will catch on in other areas.

Nicole Nelson said a petition calling for a switch to comprehensive-development zoning for 10 blocks near Kwomais Point Park – approximately 200 lots between 128 and 130 streets, from 14 Avenue south to the water –  received the support of 75 per cent of residents, and she expects the matter will go to public hearing sometime next spring.

The effort has been underway for about four months, Nelson said, but the latest push forward was inspired in part by last month’s adoption by Surrey council of similar zoning for the area between 128 and 126A streets, south from 16 Avenue to the park.

That bylaw, adopted Sept. 28, was drafted by the city in response to a petition from area residents. It switches 148 lots in the neighbourhood from single-family residential (RF) zoning to a comprehensive-development (CD) zone, which reduces the maximum size and height of houses permitted on the 5,000-square-foot lots to 2,600 square feet. Maximum height is now limited to 26.5 feet for a house with a steeply-sloping roof, while accessory buildings on each property can be no more than 16.5 feet high.

Longtime area resident Nadine Smith said the bylaw will help preserve the character of the neighbourhood. And the process that led to it “really brought the community together.”

“We’ve actually had a really good thing going on in our community,” Smith told Peace Arch News.

Nelson said that as with the Kwomais group, residents in her neighborhood want to prevent more “monster houses” from being built. The move, she noted, will also reduce builders’ arguments around a need to remove more trees.

The need for change on the latter front was further driven home last week by clearcutting that got underway of about 75 trees on three lots that weren’t grandfathered into the latest bylaw, Nelson said.

Chainsaws roared to action on the morning of Oct. 19 on the 15 Avenue lots.

“It was so sad,” Nelson said. “People were commenting like crazy on our (Ocean Park Neighbours Facebook) page… how they could hear the eagles chirping away.”

Describing city staff as “so great” in responding to previous resident initiatives, Nelson said she is hopeful the current downzoning effort will also find success.

Anyone interested can reach Nelson through the Ocean Park Village contact link at www.oceanparkvillage.com

– with files from Alex Browne

 

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