A proposal to add two three-storey mixed-use buildings with luxury apartments and a handful of boutique stores at the corner of 164 Street and 24 Avenue has been referred back to staff, following strong neighbourhood opposition.
On a motion from Coun. Judy Villeneuve, Surrey council voted 7-2 in favour of directing staff to work with the applicant to return with a solely residential proposal.
In making the motion – which came Monday, towards the end of a marathon council meeting – Villeneuve noted strong objections with the commercial aspect that had been voiced that evening by residents.
It should go back to staff “saying this particular use is not acceptable to the neighbourhood,” Villeneuve said.
“I can’t support the development as it is with the commercial component. There’s just too much opposition in the area.”
Grayrose Developments sought rezoning of the northeast corner from one-acre residential to comprehensive development in order to build one building with an apartment above ground-floor commercial space on the northern portion of the site, and a second building with 12 apartments above commercial space and resident parking on the south.
To proceed, it would require amendments to the Orchard Grove Neighbourhood Concept Plan – introduction of a new land-use designation, and from townhouse (15 units per acre) or multi-family with tree preservation (30 upa) to mixed use commercial/residential (20 upa).
The proposal complies with the site’s official community plan designation, and the commercial uses would be located about halfway between those already at 24 Avenue and 160 Street, and those proposed at the intersection at 168 Street.
Coun. Mary Martin cited existing and pending developments along 24 Avenue in registering her opposition. Both she and Coun. Dave Woods said they’d prefer the application was simply denied.
“Enough is enough along 24th,” Martin said. “I travel it daily and as much as I love to shop, I don’t think we need any more shops down on 24th Avenue, particularly in this part of 24th, where it’s residential.”
Woods, pointing to the public-hearing speakers, said the community “made it clear” it doesn’t fit – “I would prefer to just move denial on the matter.”
Nearly a dozen people voiced their opinions during the public hearing, with all but one – project architect Mark Ankenman – opposing the application in its current form.
“We fail to understand how a residential area comprised of single-family homes is being considered for retail and apartment living,” said one woman. “One block away consists of nothing but retail and restaurants.”
Wendy Hankin, who said she moved to the area three months ago, described the project as “a monstrosity” and told council she “will go the max to defend my position that it doesn’t need to be there.”
“You will receive constant complaints from me and I will not give up,” she said.
(The comment was followed by laughter after a council member compared Hankin to Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who Hankin had previously referenced in describing her 16-year fight with Burnaby City Hall.)
As with speakers before her, Hankin cited noise and traffic among her concerns, and said that little was made public about the proposal. She said she only learned about it herself on Sunday night.
Ankenman rejected the arguments of little public notice. Noting the development process began “a couple months shy” of three years ago, he said a sign was up for two years, and cited notices that were sent to area residents and a public information meeting as among other steps taken.
“This project does comply with the OCP in every way, and it meets the density as anticipated,” Ankenman said.
The commercial component, he added “was conceived by (city) staff.”
Asked by Coun. Bruce Hayne if it would be better to deny the application rather than refer it back, planning staff said a referral would be “a good solution, if council is interested in seeing a proposal that they could support at that location.”