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 other residents are in the left sidebar under “Recent Posts”.
Madame Mayor, Councillors, City Staff and Neighbours:
We’re here this evening to discuss a development proposal with the potential to directly impact Grandview Acres, but not in a good way!
Everyone agrees that sensitive interfaces (also referred to as transitions or buffers) play an important role in protecting established suburban neighbourhoods from encroaching urban development.
Most of us moved into the once uncrowded area between 26 and 28 Avenues and 164 to 168 Streets because of the acre-sized lots, the trees, the privacy and the peace and quiet.
However, many of the adjacent suburban neighbourhoods that contributed so much to the overall look and feel of our area are quickly being urbanized, leaving us looking very much like a green island in the middle of a megalopolis jam-packed with dark roofs and tiny stick trees.
We’ve always believed that if the majority of local homeowners decided to stay here to live we would be protected from incompatible development nearby that would compromise our area’s quality of life, character and ambiance by increasing ambient noise, traffic congestion, light pollution and crime, as well as decreasing Surrey’s fast-dwindling tree canopy.
The Rural Designation for our area will help ensure homeowners won’t be forced to sell against their will to developers and speculators intent on accumulating enough land to trigger a pro-development Neighbourhood Concept Plan.
In addition to that, however, Council needs to provide appropriate buffers between old and new subdivisions by specifying that houses built adjacent to us are of a similar design with comparable frontages.
A decade ago the city allowed a high-density development with much smaller lots to be built in Morgan Heights across the street from acreages on 164 Street. A few years later Council then approved the creation of urban subdivisions on our side of the street, even though our homeowners overwhelmingly opposed the proposal. Ironically, this was justified in part because some of these new houses mirrored the higher density of Morgan Heights across the street.
The controversial development proposal we are discussing tonight calls for a total of 17 units (8 duplexes and 1 single-family house) which would be directly across the street from our existing single-family homes on 1 acre lots. To approve it, Council would have to ignore commonly accepted development practices and Surrey’s own development policies (as summarized on the display) regarding sensitive interfaces or transitions between suburban neighbourhoods and new urban subdivisions.
New development should proceed in a reasonable, thoughtful way that respects the rights of nearby residents who want to live in their homes rather than sell to developers. Only single family homes are an appropriate transition between an established suburban neighbourhood and encroaching urban developments. High-density housing units like duplexes, row houses and townhouses are NOT acceptable as buffers.
We have consistently been open to negotiations and compromise with respect to development in our area. We all agree that smart, sustainable development can be good for Surrey. On the other hand, ‘bull in a china shop’ developers are not. Just say NO.
Council should use this opportunity to establish a responsible and meaningful precedent by clarifying to Planning staff and potential developers that the will of Council is that only compatible single family homes with similar frontages to those existing acreages across the street are acceptable for new developments on the south side of 26 Avenue.
Council must stand behind the policies found in the city’s OCP, Grandview Heights GLUP and Orchard Grove NCP and protect us, as well as other established Surrey neighbourhoods like ours, from overcrowding and overdevelopment.
~~~ Overhead presented at Public Hearing
Surrey has enshrined the following specific assurances in these major development policies:
- The Official Community Plan encourages urban land development “in appropriate locations within existing residential neighbourhoods, when developed compatibly with existing neighborhood character.”
- The Grandview Heights General Land Use Plan specifies that transition densities adjacent to existing one-acre subdivisions be defined through “compatible frontage widths for lots facing each other along the street” and “building designs that are compatible in height and massing for buildings facing each other along the street.”
- The Orchard Grove Neighbourhood Concept Plan was “developed to be compatible with the existing and planned surrounding land uses” and points out that “the lands North of 26 Avenue are estate residential in character consisting of larger homes on large lots.” It calls for “a sensitive interface and density transition along 26 Avenue… with the Suburban designated lands to the North…” and allows flexibility in home design “provided that the form and character already established on 26 Avenue is maintained.”