PANORAMA RIDGE — Despite persistent opposition, city council gave the green light to a development at the corner of 148th Street and Highway 10 Monday night.
The developer wants to build 36 townhouses and a large worship centre for Village Church on a 9.7-acre property at 14876 and 14844 No. 10 Highway.
East Panorama Ridge Community Association president Karl Rulofs said he was “disappointed” after council gave the application third reading Monday night.
It’s a battle the community has been fighting for two years, he said.
“It was quite a shock.”
The issue? High density in a low-density neighbourhood, Rulofs told the Now-Leader. He lives 200 metres away and across the road from the proposed site.
“You might as well take every cul de sac in Surrey and put an apartment block in the middle of it. It makes about that much sense,” he said. “There are no townhouses south of Highway 10 from 192 to 120, so why start now?”
The plan requires an Official Community Plan amendment from suburban to mixed employment and urban, and requires rezoning, from RA to PA-2 and CD.
Also required is an amendment to the East Panorama Ridge Concept Plan from residential style business park and suburban residential (half acre) to assembly hall and residential (10 units per acre), among other variances.
When voting on the application, only Councillor Mike Starchuk was opposed (councillors Mary Martin and Tom Gill were absent).
Councillor Vera LeFranc said she supported the project because “I thought low-density townhouses were an appropriate building form for this location on a transit corridor, bordering light industrial and in close proximity to amenities like the YMCA.”
Before the vote Monday night, Rulofs asked council “how we are at this juncture when, at the land use hearing December 19 the proposal was deemed ‘dead? The majority of members of our ratepayer association are clearly unhappy with this proposal and want to know why, when at the land use hearing the file is dead and now it is back before council with no changes.”
Rulofs told the Now-Leader he loves his neighbourhood, made up of roughly 120 homes on half-acre lots on the south side of Highway 10.
He said the community group is not against the church, but how the church “fits in.”
“We are a one way in and one way out, no-exit neighbourhood. Traffic issues are bound to happen with 400-plus cars at a service,” he said about the church.
”They say they want to be good neighbours. Well, good neighbours don’t just walk into a neighbourhood and tear it apart. How are we going to stop people from parking on (148th) Street? It’s narrow enough as it is.”
Rulofs noted there are already almost 100 houses that exit on 148th Street.
“The only thing that may save us now is that all (councillors) approving did ask that engineering come up with a different access for the church other than 148th Street,” he said. “The townhouses will exit onto 148th Street.”
In a planning report, city staff wrote that “the applicant has made reasonable efforts to respond to area residents, including changing the housing style from two-storey with basement units to one-storey rancher style units with basements. And the landscape buffer has been revised to provide a more substantial buffer by using larger trees and shrubs.”
But Rulofs said he worries the townhouse density will set a precedent.
“We moved in here in 1998. In 2000 is when Surrey has asked for proposals for how the OCP (Official Community Plan) should be laid out,” he explained. “That’s when all the houses started going in north of Highway 10. The YMCA wasn’t here, those houses weren’t here, those were all half acre and larger lots. And it evolved. In 2000 I did speak to city council and I said I liked the plan they came up with, which was half-acre lots, 200 feet deep… and into light commercial. That’s what’s still on the books, that’s what we’d still like to see.”