Bob Gardner, of Friends of McNally Creek. (Alex Browne photo)

Two groups bring South Surrey development concerns to the city

9 Avenue residents cite potential impact to safety, property values

Residents of a quiet South Surrey neighbourhood are petitioning against plans they say will increase traffic, create a dangerous situation for children, decrease their property values and impinge on a designated wildlife corridor.

Ron Chisholm said he delivered a 119-name petition to Surrey City Hall Monday, in connection with a proposal to build 38 homes in the 16200-block of 10 Avenue.

The development itself, he said, is not the issue.

McNally Creek Development has asked to rezone two lots, at 16220 and 16260 10 Ave., to single-family residential from one-acre residential, and for a development permit for steep slopes, infrastructure areas and streamside areas, in order to subdivide into 39 lots.

The issue, said Chisholm, is a stipulation by the city that 9 Avenue – which currently dead-ends just east of 161B Street – be opened to create a connection to 10 Avenue.

City officials say that it is “appropriate” to complete the road, citing “a longer term intent” for the 9 Avenue connection related to existing infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the group Friends of McNally Creek, spearheaded by area residents Paul Barclay and Bob Gardner, is attempting to persuade the developer to reduce the density of the proposed subdivision, which abuts the greenbelt and wildlife corridor of McNally Creek.

A request by Peace Arch News to speak with the developer was not returned by press time Thursday.

The creek, designated a Class A salmon stream, is part of an ecosystem that also supports deer, eagles, herons, belted kingfishers and several species each of owls and woodpeckers.

Gardner told PAN that his group is also not opposed to subdivision of the property, but that reducing the proposal’s density could help save some of 266 trees on the site’s west side that are earmarked for removal.

The group is also opposing an application to have an existing house on the site’s northeast corner declared heritage, preferring that the lot become, ultimately, part of the wildlife corridor. Gardner said the house is less than 40 years old, and that returning some of the lot to a more natural state was recommended in an independent environmental assessment the group paid for.

“It was built in 1979, which is hardly heritage, although it has, apparently, some interesting features to it.”

Gardner said the proposed homes would be half the size of most existing homes in the neighbourhood. Such densification would be out of keeping with the area, he said, and would put more pressure on South Meridian Elementary – which already has three portable classrooms – as well as increase local traffic.

Surrey’s transportation planning manager Philip Bellefontaine told PAN by email that the city is mindful of residents’ concerns and will be conducting a traffic review.

He said reasoning for the 9 Avenue connection includes that some existing infrastructure along that stretch of road was installed in a temporary capacity for the subdivisions adjacent to the site, “confirming the infrastructure was to be extended in the future when the 9 Avenue extension occurred.”

As well, the existing 9 Avenue exceeds the maximum 400 metres allowed “to limit the number of dwelling units and overall vehicle trips serviced by a single point of access.”

Emergency-vehicle access is also a factor, Bellefontaine said.

Chisholm, however, said the lack of connection hasn’t been an issue in the 21 years that he’s lived on 9 Avenue. He notes “there is emergency access,” referring to a nearby laneway that joins 8A and 8 avenues.

In a letter to the city representing the 9th Avenue Residents Association, Chisholm describes the connection possibility as “a deep and unanimous concern.”

A Nov. 27 notice from the city to residents advises that the applicaton is “very preliminary.” If a public hearing be required, residents within 100 metres of the site will be notified, it states.

City south planning manager Shawn Low said feedback from an information meeting held by the developer Tuesday night – and attended by 96 people – will be considered in the city’s review. Other factors include setbacks from McNally Creek and tree retention, Low said.

Chisholm said the meeting did little to ease residents.

“What we heard (Tuesday) is completely unacceptable to us,” he told PAN, noting attendees were told that 9 Avenue will be connected as soon as one other property on 8 Avenue is sold.

Gardner noted that two proposals in the area have been turned down by the city for having too many houses too close to the riparian area.

“We recognize that developers have to build a certain number of houses to make money, but we feel there should be some way of reaching a compromise.”

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