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Laronde subdivision spurs hours of talk

Mixed reviews over neighbourhood traffic heard at Surrey public hearing.
Leslie Cormack-Wilson speaks at a City of Surrey public hearing in support of a proposed development near Laronde Elementary. Below

A proposed 20-house subdivision in South Surrey has neighbours divided over how the development will affect traffic and safety in the area.

Surrey city council heard from more than a dozen speakers Monday evening about applications for Official Community Plan and zoning amendments for the four-acre lot at 13160 20 Ave., which would pave the way for a residential development comprising 20 single-family homes.

The public hearing – which lasted nearly 2½ hours – included residents speaking both in favour and opposition.

A major concern among residents is traffic, described by many as problematic due to the large number of students driven to and from Laronde Elementary, a French-immersion “destination” school.

Amble Green Drive resident Leslie Cormack-Wilson, saying she was speaking on behalf of 41 households, said she supported the connection of Laronde Avenue to 20 Avenue, which would be required should the project be approved.

Cormack-Wilson said the road extension would help eliminate bottlenecks and drivers doing U-turns on Laronde and Amble Greene during school hours.

“We are pleased to support this project, however, we would respectfully ask council… if you are approving it to start the road works as soon as possible, to have it completed before school starts,” Cormack-Wilson said.

However, neighbour Parry Patronius said he was opposed to the road connection, concerned not only about the increased through traffic, but also “transient vehicles” in the area.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing, strikes more terror in my heart than the hundreds of more vehicles that would be passing by Laronde Elementary during school hours,” Patronius said, noting two months ago RCMP locked down the neighbourhood after a “sexual predator” was reported in the area.

“They’ll be able to pass by Laronde and make a quick exit onto 20th Avenue.”

Other concerns from speakers included the loss of trees on the lot – of 314 trees currently standing, 280 would be removed – the development being out of character for the neighbourhood and discrepancies between what proponents told residents would be proposed and what was outlined in a Surrey staff report on the project, specifically the inclusion of basement suites in the homes.

Developer Norman Porter, however, told council the proponents have “no intention of building suites” and would be willing to accept a restrictive covenant on the project to reflect that.

Porter also said the plan was specifically designed to retain as many trees as possible – the proposal includes several variances aimed at keeping trees on the lots – which he said was “all about fitting into the character in this neighbourhood.”

“We’ll have more large, majestic conifer trees than there are anywhere else on the Laronde side of the subdivision,” Porter said.

Surrey council voted to defer a third reading of the bylaws related to the proposal until May 9.