It’s time to draw the line in Clayton

A Cloverdale resident and parent urges the city of Surrey to follow planning process over re-zoning application headed to public hearing.

The re-zoning application stands in a grassy lot at the northwest end of 194 Street and 73 Avenue.

A controversial re-zoning application in Clayton will go to public hearing this September, despite concerns that the neighbourhood planning process isn’t being followed.

The application involves a property in an Neighbourhood Concept Plan that has not yet been finalized.

Cloverdale resident and parent Linda Stromberg is concerned that the developer is being allowed to “jump the queue”, resulting in added residential units in a neighbourhood where new residential development is outpacing the capacity of schools in the area.

“It is my view, in Clayton, that we should not accept this, given the current situation in our schools,” she said.

Stromberg said she would like the application delayed until the NCP is completed, thought to be sometime in 2015.“Although denying the application until 2015 will not stop the pressure it will ultimately bring on the schools, it will delay it a bit, and, more importantly,” she said, “it will send a message that particularly in Clayton, development should not be accelerated beyond what the city has already determined with its NCP process.”

Stromberg (pictured at left) sent her objections to mayor and council earlier this summer, but the application has proceeded to public hearing.

She hopes she and other opponents will pack council chambers on Sept. 8, when the re-zoning application will be heard.

The developer is seeking to have the property at 7379 194 Street zoned RF-10 in order to create eight, single family small lots.

“I’m really hoping there will be a large turnout opposing that,” Stromberg said.

Surrey City Council on Feb. 3 approved a measure to investigate re-zoning three lots – including this one – before the NCP had been approved.

At the time, both mayor Dianne Watts and Coun. Barinder Rasode spoke against the measure. Rasode told The Reporter the decision gives some developers unfair advantage over those who wait for the NCP process to conclude.

An NCP helps guide a community’s density, transportation network, sewer systems, financing and land use policies. The plans determine the best unified strategy for a neighbourhood and area created through consultation between city staff and residents.

Stromberg’s complaint is that making an exception in this case will set a troubling precedent that will be difficult to reverse.

She notes that although growth and residential development has been carefully planned in this area of Clayton, the neighbourhood is experiencing well-publicized growing pains – from lack of parking and density to inadequate transit and infrastructure.

Her biggest concern is that the construction of new schools aren’t keeping pace with demand in the area, according to Stromberg, who fears even a few new students will place an added burden on already cramped classrooms.

“I thought in Clayton, the city would follow its process,” she said, expressing disappointment that the application is proceeding to a public hearing. “This is an easy one for the city to say, Whoa. No.”

While the proposed development will add only five new elementary students and two secondary students, “every little bit adds up,” she said, pointing to other new residential development about to get underway at Aloha Estates. Once that’s built, she says portables will be needed at the brand-new Katzie Elementary School, which quietly opened this spring.

“Our mayor and council can affect the pace of growth,” she said.  “I agree that we want to grow, but here is an area where, in my view, we need to show some more discretion. There’s an opportunity to draw the line.”

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