SPECIAL BLOG FOCUS: for the coming weeks, resident presentations to Council regarding a contentious multi-family development in a single family area on the Orchard Grove/Area 5 interface will be posted. Italicized print below contains the background and links. The specific presentations by individual authors are below that. To access all the presentations, refer to the “Recent Posts” list on the left.
The second presentation in this series is by Mike Proskow.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Good evening Madame Mayor and Councillors.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this evening.
My name is Mike Proskow. I live in the area adjacent to this application and I am also a Director for the Grandview Heights Stewardship Association. The GHSA serves as an information portal providing information about our community to individuals, homeowners and citizens.
My comments tonight are generally supportive of development, however, this particular application is extremely troubling.
File 7914-0118 comprises of an area of approximately 2 acres. The proponent, Tara Development is one of several companies represented in the planning area known as Orchard Grove or 5A.
The company, Tara Developments and its holdings are very small comparatively speaking.
Despite these modest circumstances, this proponent has chosen to advance a plan for the community that puts them at odds with every stakeholder involved with the Orchard Grove neighborhood concept plan. Furthermore, the applicant has ignored advice of City Planning Staff and demonstrated that defiance by refusing to meet directly with affected homeowners, City Staff and interested parties.
To this point, and I quote PAN July 23, “the City of Surrey’s manager of area planning and development for South Surrey, Nicholas Lai, confirmed the two sides are at an impasse…. Lai said … “there is obviously a major difference in terms of what the applicant wants to see and what the residents want to see.”
Mr Lai also noted that “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.”
Madame Mayor, you and your council were well aware of these circumstances as early as July 13 Council when 1st and 2nd reading was granted despite, and I quote from the planning file of this date “The Planning & Development Department recommends that this application be referred back to staff and the applicant for further dialogue with area residents to address the outstanding issues.”
This advice was not heeded by Council and the applicant has continued to maintain an unusual level of defiance. I quote the PAN July 23, “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.”
Madame Mayor, it is in no ones interest to advance the wants of this applicant at the expense of a very large number of homeowners in South Surrey and more importantly, to openly disregard both the advise and direction that COS professional planning staff have repeatedly recommended to all concerned.
I could go into great detail and explain the results of no less than 4 separate petitions expressing opposition to duplexes on the interface between Area 5 and Orchard Grove on 26th Ave, one of which was just completed this past week and exceeds 350 signatures. The signatories are all opposed to this application in its current form.
I could provide a history of the negotiated agreements made between homeowners and three separate development companies located adjacent to and behind the subject property as examples of how best to proceed in the public good.
I could provide evidence as to why public policy is so very important to building strong and vibrant neighborhoods and communities but that maybe unnecessary as this already is a strong and vibrant neighborhood.
What is troubling is that I and people here tonight are compelled to attend this confrontational public hearing, a hearing that should never have come to this difficult juncture had the advise of staff been followed.
The issues are clear. The density being sought is excessive; the duplex built form is incongruent with the existing neighborhood and the proposal is in conflict with 3 other larger files underway in this development area.
Finally, I want to explain why I am here tonight. I live in a neighborhood located just to the east of this file and along on the same street. We have 8 homeowners who may well find themselves in this same process in the near future.
I want to also emphasize that neither I, or most of my neighbors are opposed to development, however, it is not acceptable that their concerns be marginalized due to the wants of any one developer.
More importantly, the actions of a few should never be allowed to destabilize the benefits of living in a mature, safe, and desirable community.
For these reasons Madame Mayor, I ask that you send this file back to the drawing board and thus deny 3rd reading tonight.
If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and are presented here by the GHSA to encourage healthy debate. The GHSA Blog exists as a resource to enable members concerned with the environmental and community stewardship of Grandview Heights to voice perspectives. When directors of the Association contribute to the blog, they do so as private citizens, not as officers representing the Association. The GHSA reserves the right to edit, condense or reject any contribution.