Two sides to Hazelmere housing proposal

Two sides to Hazelmere housing proposal

Public to have say on South Surrey project at city hall Monday

A public hearing on a proposal to build 145 homes in South Surrey’s Hazelmere Valley is set for Monday at Surrey City Hall.

And Gabriel Jefferies – who said his family first arrived in the area “when there were still dirt roads and you couldn’t give an acre away to anyone” – has every intention of being there to voice his concerns.

“This is going to affect the community, the watershed, the salmon, and it’s going to put pressure on the rest of us,” Jefferies told Peace Arch News Tuesday, during an interview in the 18200-block of 0 Avenue, at a site overlooking the subject property.

The development, eyed for 129 acres on three lots at 18115, 18147 and 18253 0 Avenue, is proposed by Lapierre Holdings and Hazelmere Golf & Tennis Club.

Patrick Giesbrecht, a consultant representing the golf course, said Thursday morning that there is much support for the project – including from the Semiahmoo First Nation – which he said is a “strategic move” by Hazelmere to counter a declining trend in the golf industry.

“From the golf course’s point of view… this is key.”

City documents dating back to June 2015 indicate the applicants were initially looking for an Official Community Plan amendment from agricultural to suburban to allow for rezoning and subdivision into 136 lots.

Planning reports that year and in 2016 recommended against council supporting the proposed development, and suggested it be referred back to the applicant to consider “major revisions.”

Revisions outlined in a July 2017 report include the increase to 145 homes, and requests for a partial OCP amendment, rezoning, a development permit and “ALR inclusion, Non-Farm Use and Subdivision.”

In recommending moving the application forward, the report notes that staff worked with the applicant to resolve many issues.

“A sewer system to support the proposed development can be established, habitat restoration and agricultural enhancements are proposed, downstream drainage capacity is sufficient for the proposal, and the proposed servicing is being designed solely to accommodate the subject development,” the report states.

Jefferies, whose family farms fruit trees for cider on their 22 acres, said the findings do not ease his concerns. He said farmers in the area raise everything from turkeys to vegetables, and draw from underground aquifers.

“It’ll definitely affect our water,” he said.

But Giesbrecht said the project has the conditional support of the Little Campbell Watershed Society regarding stormwater and habitat enhancement plans – support that he said takes the farmers’ concerns to heart.

“They gave us the indication we are on the right track,” he said. “If they’re of interest to the farmers, they’re certainly top-of-mind for the Little Campbell Watershed Society.”

The requested amendments received first and second reading – with Coun. Judy Villeneuve opposed – at council’s July 24 meeting. Villeneuve also opposed setting the matter for public hearing.

She noted her position is not new.

“I didn’t support this originally nor do I support it going to public hearing,” she told council at the meeting.

“For me, it’s a pretty big departure from our plans that we have in place. And we have major infrastructure issues in the city now with what we’re developing at such a fast pace, so I do not want to be opening up another area, and particularly out of an NCP planning process in the area.

“And it’s also against the Vancouver regional growth strategy that I participated on for a number of years,” Villeneuve added.

“I just respect that at this point, until we really know what kind of infrastructure support we’re going to get from the federal government as well as the education system.”

Coun. Vera LeFranc said she agreed with most of Villeneuve’s points, and noted the project has “many, many hurdles to get through.”

In supporting moving the project to public hearing, however, she said she is “interested to hear what the region has to say as well as what the public has to say.”

Coun. Mike Starchuk noted it was one of few proposals he’s seen come to council proposing inclusion of land (1.6 hectares) into the ALR.

Monday’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. at 13450 104 Ave.