A private liquor store proposed for a shopping complex up the hill from Crescent Beach was stopped in its tracks Monday evening, after Surrey council voted unanimously to deny third reading to required rezoning.
In moving for denial, Coun. Judy Villeneuve cited the potential impact that eased access to alcohol could have on “fueling of problems in the area.”
The vote followed a public hearing on the rezoning application, which was sought by South Surrey-based Alldritt Development Ltd. to facilitate a liquor store at 12823 Crescent Rd.
In addition to residents’ concerns and the fact such a business doesn’t meet city policy with regard to proximity to such things as playgrounds, Villeneuve – who noted she lives in Crescent Beach – named the safety of people going to and from Crescent Beach as a concern, particularly with regard to children heading to the swim club in Blackie Spit.
“We’ve made that area much more bikable and walkable that it just could be a recipe for disaster,” she said.
The rezoning received first and second reading at council’s June 12 meeting.
At the outset of Monday’s public hearing, Mayor Linda Hepner noted council had received seven letters from people supporting the rezoning, and 35 opposed. Six stood before council to express their dissent.
Resident Mark Grist, noting he lived within 100 metres of the proposed store, said he represented a neighbourhood group whose history in the area dates back as far as 1939.
Grist cited the city’s policy for where such businesses can be located as a key reason council should not allow the liquor store.
“From a purely legalistic perspective, it doesn’t meet the policy, so it shouldn’t go ahead,” he said.
A member of the Crescent Beach Property Owners Association stood to dispute a city report that noted the group had voted 18-4 in favour of the liquor store.
Members were not given notice that a vote on the liquor store would be held at the referenced meeting, which only 23 of 375 members attended, Paul Schwartz told council.
“Probably not the thing to do to construe that as being broad community support from the association,” he said.
Ryan Alldritt, whose family owns the shopping centre property, was among two people to speak in favour of the application.
The developer’s agent, Oleg Verbenkov, also spoke.
Verbenkov noted “significant improvements” to 128 Street were included in the plans, and that there would be a bigger impact to traffic and parking should a business that fits the current zoning move in.
Not only would the road improvements not be required, “if the zoning stays as it is and if the landowners find a use such as a green grocer or some similiar use, it would actually, in our opinion, be a greater load on the parking at peak times,” Verbenkov said.
Alldritt told council he has lived just a few blocks from the site for 27 years, and that his family is invested in the community.
“There’s nothing we want to do to bring any harm to the local neighbourhood,” he said.
Citing concerns raised about traffic impact, Alldritt encouraged the city to signalize the intersection at 128 Street and Crescent Road. It’s work residents and Alldritt noted city staff have reported is “at least” seven years away.
In moving for denial, Villeneuve noted the landowner has been responsible, but said a liquor store “isn’t the right fit for the neighbourhood.”