White Rock council is to vote Monday on whether a contentious project proposed for the corner of Marine Drive and Oxford Street will go to public hearing.
Members gave support this week to moving the project forward, following word proponents have “significantly” redesigned it to fit within existing height limits.
“The applicants have responded to concerns of hillside residences and to the land use and planning committee by significantly reducing building heights and the scale of the project,” director of planning and development services, Paul Stanton, writes in a Sept. 12 report recommending changes to the Official Community Plan.
Georgia Laine Developments had asked for the amendments in order to construct Marine Terraces – a three-building residential/commercial complex on 1.14 acres between Buena Vista Avenue and Marine Drive, at Oxford Street, currently home to White Rock Mufflers.
The OCP amendments are needed to change the designations of two lots in the parcel from residential to commercial, which would increase the lots’ allowed height from 25 feet to 37 feet; a zoning amendment is to allow higher than the 37 feet on other lots that the existing commercial zoning allows.
Residents have voiced concerns about the project’s height since January, when the concept of building up to 15 storeys on the site was raised.
The project was scaled back twice, before the committee recommended in July that further efforts be made to keep heights on the two residential lots within existing zoning.
That has been done in the current proposal, Stanton said.
As a packed gallery listened, he and architect Tim Ankenman described a complex now proposed to include one four-storey apartment block, two three-storey townhouse blocks and a block of two-storey townhouses over at-grade commercial units.
The number of commercial units has been increased from seven to eight; total residential units decreased from 90 to 67; and parking spaces reduced from 144 to 99. Ankenman said the project has become “a real sort of pedestrian-oriented proposal.”
Referring to previous concerns that a four-storey building would set a precedent on West Beach, Ankenman said the precedent already exists; Ocean Gardens, a complex next door to where Marine Terraces is proposed, is four storeys, he noted.
While the gallery was full of interested parties – including developer Robert Wilson and residents holding protest signs – members of the public were not invited to comment.
Stanton noted the project must still meet two prerequisites before final approval of any zoning amendment can be given: the applicants must enter a covenant to ensure balconies are not enclosed to create additional living space; and, as the site needs extensive soil remediation, a detailed site investigation must be completed to the satisfaction of the environment ministry.
If council votes to send the project to public hearing, that opportunity will take place in October, Stanton said.