Residents concerned with a development proposed for a Grandview Heights neighbourhood are crossing their fingers that Surrey council will “do the right thing” Monday when the project comes forward for third reading.
“What we’re asking is, go by your policy… preserve what’s across the street from us,” said Gary Cameron.
Tara Developments has applied to build 16 semi-detached duplexes and one single-family home on just over two acres in the 16600-block of 26 Avenue.
The application received first and second reading July 13 – and was scheduled for a public hearing on July 27 – despite a planning report that recommended council refer the project back to staff and the applicant “for further dialogue with area residents to address outstanding issues.”
The report notes “significant opposition” on the part of residents, who favour development that is more consistent with what already exists in the area: single-family homes. They also oppose the requested elimination of a “transition landscape buffer requirement.”
Victoria Blinkhorn, who chairs the Grandview Heights Stewardship Association, said association members and other area residents want to see a standard that was set for two nearby projects on 26 Avenue – which propose 30-metre-wide lots – continue. It would ensure appropriate, sensitive transitions that protect the neighbourhood from encroaching urbanization, she said.
However, Blinkhorn said the developer has had no appetite to consider residents’ concerns, and residents are now “forced to go to public hearing without having meaningful discourse.”
Reached Wednesday, Tara Developments owner Jasbir Takhar deferred comment to his agent and architect, neither of which could be reached by Peace Arch News press deadline Thursday morning.
However, the City of Surrey’s manager of area planning and development for South Surrey, Nicholas Lai, confirmed the two sides are at an impasse.
Noting the project complies with the Neighbourhood Concept Plan policies, Lai said Tuesday that “there is obviously a major difference in terms of what the applicant wants to see and what the residents want to see.”
“One of the things that staff like to achieve before we present an application to council is that there is an agreement and the issues have been addressed. In this particular case, there wasn’t any agreement or anything that was resolved.”
“From the residents’ perspective, they think they have not been heard.”
The applicants are aware of residents’ concerns, Lai said. Such an impasse, he said, “doesn’t happen very often.”
Blinkhorn and Cameron said they were shocked by council’s decision to put the application through to public hearing, given the process so far. The venue is “not a place to critically assess the merits of an application,” she said.
Cameron described the proposed development as “incompatible” with the surrounding neighbourhood, noting that the area across the street is being considered for Rural Designation zoning – which, if approved, would essentially protect the area from higher-density development for the foreseeable future. That zoning change is also on Monday’s agenda, he said, for consideration of first and second reading.
He said he is “cautiously optimistic that council will do the right thing,” but noted if things don’t go as hoped with the Tara Developments application, it could also compromise the value of the Rural Designation.