Redwood Heights decision termed ‘premature’

Councillor says Grandview 4 land use issues suggest a review of the Neighbourhood Concept Plan process is necessary

Coun Barinder Rasode says it’s time to reassess the Neighbourhood Concept Plan process, following Surrey council’s approval of of the Stage 1 land use concept for Grandview Heights Area 4 (now to be known as the Redwood Heights NCP).

Given the environmental sensitivity of the largely rural area, she says, moving forward with what is essentially a blanket approval of land use suggests the NCP process itself needs to be reviewed.

“It’s definitely a conversation it’s time we had,” she said on Tuesday.

Recommendations of a staff report, setting out future land use of the area, were approved by a council vote Monday night, with only Rasode and Coun. Judy Villeneuve in opposition.

Mayor Dianne Watts, who has confirmed to Peace Arch News that she has previously not commented on, or participated in discussions on the NCP – because she owns land in the area – was among council members voting to approve the recommendations.

Rasode emphasized the Redwood Heights NCP  went through “an entirely legitimate process” under existing policies.

But she said she continues to have concerns that moving forward with the Redwood Heights NCP is “premature” for an area – between 16 Avenue and 32 Avenue, bounded by 176 Street on the west and 184 Street on the east – is “high quality, environmentally sensitive” land.

“We need to continue to develop plans around our town centres, not create sprawl,” she said.

The plan, as outlined in a series of public open houses, calls for careful transitioning from high density residential development to low density plus the preservation of a wildlife corridor and hub with provision of parks, water course areas and other green space.

Monday’s vote essentially clears the way for Stage 2, which is a more comprehensive study of the servicing needs and costs for the area.

The corporate report on the NCP, approved by council, notes that before starting the planning process the owners’ group and the city will have to reach a further agreement stipulating the owners’ group pays all costs associated with detailed servicing studies.

But Rasode said approving Stage 1 of the plan means a developer will be going into an area that is “pretty much defined in what the area will look like and the density allowed.”

The only subsequent opportunity for input from council or the public will come if there are applications for changes to any part of the land use plan, she added.

“We do have that, if an applicant comes forward to make changes to a particular piece within the NCP,” she said.

“Then we go through an application process and it will come before a public hearing.”

Coun. Linda Hepner, who voted in favour of the recommendations, told Peace Arch News last week that the decision doesn’t “automatically give a green light” to development in the area, and merely continues long term planning that will be contingent on such elements as pricing out services.