A rezoning application to allow 46 townhouse units and two three-storey apartment buildings in the Morgan Creek neighbourhood was sent back to staff after 15 people spoke in opposition of the project at a City of Surrey public hearing April 3.
Residents located near the proposal for 3375 Morgan Creek Way spoke mostly against the addition of the apartment buildings – which would contain 51 units – but noted support of further townhouse development.
Surrey council listened to more than an hour of comments from neighbours. Several speakers suggested there would be a larger number of residents in opposition of the project, but many are “snowbirds” and were unable to attend.
“I would like to see council send the development back and redesign… so the project reflects a more friendly and consistent style of development with the rest of Morgan Creek,” said area resident Steven Lee.
Collingwood Crescent resident Will Filion raised concerns with parking, particularly when golf tournaments, weddings and special events are held at the nearby Morgan Creek Golf Course.
Several residents brought up a parking concern, as well as “bumper-to-bumper” traffic during the start of the school day near Morgan Elementary.
Maciej Dembek, the architect of the Morgan Creek Holdings development, addressed the parking concerns to council members.
Dembek said the city requires 101.2 stalls for the townhouse site, yet his plan incorporates 297 stalls. For the apartment site, he said the city requires 86.5 stalls, but he’s planned for 121.
“So if there are any concerns with parking on Morgan Creek Way, I don’t think it’s quite founded,” Dembek said.
Kirk Fisher, who introduced himself as vice-president of Lark Group, spoke of his support and his trust in project developer Morgan Creek Holdings, noting that he lives a “couple blocks away.”
“They haven’t gone after more density, ever. They haven’t gone after more money, ever. If they think this is the right project for our community, then I want to present support and thank them for bringing this project so we can age and grow,” Fisher said.
Aplin & Martin Consultants planner Maggie Koka, who’s working on the file, took issue with feedback from residents who voiced a concern with the process involved. She said there was two open houses, one in 2015 and one in 2017.
“We communicated to all residents in Morgan Creek. We wanted to hear and get their feedback. To hear that we have not been available or somehow limited with who we wanted to have involved is simply not true,” she said at the hearing.
Mayor Linda Hepner said it was “surprising” to hear from so few people in support of the proposal, yet many against it.
“It’s also surprising to me that the very person who made Utopia is the one who is coming to us saying this is the last piece – this last piece is going to complete it in a way that will satisfy people – and it doesn’t,” Hepner said.
Nearly all residents who spoke in opposition of the development complimented Morgan Creek Holdings on the current state of the neighbourhood; one resident compared it to “heaven.”
Coun. Tom Gill made a motion to refer the application back to staff, saying there’s an opportunity for staff to work with the community and developer to find a consensus.
“If I were a reporter today, I would have two headliners. One would be ‘leave heaven alone’ or ‘mom says no,'” Gill said at the hearing.
Coun. Judy Villeneuve said she’s received close to 70 letters from people opposed to the development, and that “it needs a referral back to staff.”
The only councillor who voted against referring the application to staff was Coun. Dave Woods.
“The community has a lot of ambiance, described as a gem of the neighbourhood, living in heaven. Quite frankly, we can send this back to staff but I would really like to see the… townhouses built and that’s it,” Woods said.