July 27th Public Hearing Presentations against Tara Development’s Duplexes on 26th Ave

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. Latest post by Gary Cameron. Italicized print below contains the background and links. The presentations made to Mayor and Council at Public Hearing by residents are in the left sidebar under “Recent Posts”.

On July 27, 2015, City of Surrey Public Hearing/3rd Reading for re-zoning application 7914-0118 was held. The history of the neighbourhood’s opposition to this contentious project that proposes 18 units across from one acre homes and beside existing single family homes and the recently-approved standard of  Large Lot Single Family new homes in Orchard Grove can be seen here. MEDIA COVERAGE is also shared on this link.

Brief Background:

In early July, Planning Staff recommended this application not proceed to Council until there was more consensus between the applicant (Tara Developments) and the neighbourhood which is in opposition to the duplexes. There had been months of advocacy and discussion with Staff about this development in order to reach a compromise on the project before taking it to Council. The issues of an increase of density to a factor of 18 on a street singled out for low density, walkability via a multi-use pathway next to a green buffer (which was deleted from the application) and the need for “sensitive interface” of homes from the established neighbourhood to new-builds as highlighted by the Orchard Grove NCP are some of the neighbourhood’s concerns. Scrutiny  of the duplex plans by some show that their size and massing with minimal room between them will give the appearance of “monster row-homes” with no substantial green space between or in front of them.

Council, bypassing Planning’s recommendation, passed the application forward on July 13 from First and Second Reading to Public Hearing. This sent the message that the will of Council was to approve the duplexes. Residents pressured to make their voices heard, scrambled to submit a 360-person petition against the duplexes and presented opinions at the Public Hearing on July 27th. Media coverage about this here.

At the Public Hearing, Council defeated the motion for Third Hearing, then referred the application “back to staff” for further work.

However, while referring the file back to Staff at the Public Hearing, Council at large was clear that the referral/additional work would be to lessen the impasse between residents and the developer’s plan, but that duplexes were to Council the preferred housing form. The neighbourhood’s Large Lot Single Family preference (and valid option in the NCP) was not promoted.

Residents are shocked and concerned that a petition signed by over 360 taxpayers against the duplex, not to mention valid concerns, can be so easily dismissed by Mayor and Council. There were no speakers in support of the duplexes at the Public Hearing with the exception of the developer’s architect. There is little expectation that the Single Family option for this area of 26th Ave will be supported by Council in the next step of the process.

For the next several weeks, the presentations made at Council by GHSA members and concerned neighbours will be posted on this blog, sharing opinions that underscore the disconnect of building duplexes on a single family street which is guidelined in the Orchard Grove NCP as a street that requires a “sensitive interface” between the north sided of the street (no NCP, 1 acre homes) and the south side (Orchard Grove, zoned Large Lot Single Family 2-6 units per acre OR Duplex up to 10 units per acre). More on the zoning and context here.

As this file is an ongoing issue and the way it has been handled by Council raises questions in many minds about development in general and its process, the GHSA is refreshing public opinion by posting presentations, which can also be viewed online here on the Public Hearing video, in its role to share information and encourage citizens to draw their own conclusions.