Limited support from White Rock council for Nichol Road redo

Developer reduces height of proposed building to eight storeys.

An eight-storey development is proposed for North Bluff and Nichol roads.

An eight-storey development is proposed for North Bluff and Nichol roads.

A proposed eight-storey condo development 10 blocks west of White Rock’s town centre – which replaces a previously withdrawn application for a 15-storey tower in the same location – received little support from council Monday.

A new, “scaled-back” application for the three-lot property at North Bluff and Nichol roads was recently submitted to the city, according to staff, who provided a preliminary look at plans at Monday’s land use and planning committee meeting.

The application – made by Texor Homes Inc. – proposes an eight-storey, 81-unit development (including apartments and townhouses) with a “small commercial component” on the ground floor.

The initial 15-storey application – received by the city last May – was met with opposition from residents, who spoke out against the proposal at a public-information meeting in August.

Many in opposition pointed to the location outside of White Rock’s town centre, which is designated as high-density in the city’s Official Community Plan.

The following month, the developer withdrew the application; vice-president of Texor Homes Inc. Howard Steiss told Peace Arch News at the time he hoped to “come up with a solution that meets the needs of the community.”

While the report this week was presented for informational purposes only, council took the opportunity to weigh in on the proposal, with three members saying the height was not suitable for the neighbourhood.

“I personally don’t think eight storeys is appropriate for that area,” Coun. Megan Knight said.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin echoed Knight’s sentiment, saying that although there was “a lot to like” about the proposal, it was too far from the town centre.

“I’m concerned because not only is the height not appropriate, but if we were to approve this, it would invite speculation along this whole corridor,” Baldwin said. “Speculation leads to rundown housing and neglect, and I don’t want to see that.”

Coun. Bill Lawrence was the lone voice of support for the project, nothing that although the height “might not be overly appealing,” the development would help to create a “commercial gateway to White Rock.”

Karen Cooper, the city’s director of planning, told council the city has been “giving out mixed messages” about development along North Bluff, noting there is contradictory information in the OCP – currently under review – regarding the future of the North Bluff Corridor.

“From a strictly land-use point of view, this is a great location for higher density in the form of development compared to the rest of the City of White Rock,” Cooper said. “What we don’t have are design guidelines. Everyone that has come to look at this site has asked, ‘what does the city want to see on this property?’ and we don’t have a lot of direction on that.”

Cooper pointed to a survey conducted last spring during the launch of the OCP review process, that showed high-density along North Bluff was the second preferred location among respondents, following the town centre.

Coun. Lynne Sinclair questioned those results, noting that more information is required before any decisions are made.

“We need to be a bit more clear on what people meant on that survey, because North Bluff is a long road,” Sinclair said.

Coun. David Chesney said that while he agreed North Bluff Road was a “great place” for high-density, the proposal at Nichol Road was “so far from the town centre it’s just not even in the realm of possibility.”

In Cooper’s report to the committee, she highlighted the reduction in units (81 from 134), height (27 metres from 46 m) and gross floor-area ratio (2.98 from 4.82).

The application is currently under review by staff and a public-information meetings will be scheduled, Cooper said.

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