A few Surrey developers are one step closer to bypassing a community consultation process and jumping the queue to rezone property in East Clayton.
Surrey city council approved a measure on Feb. 3 to investigate the possibility of re-zoning lots straddling the Surrey-Langley border before a long-gestating neighbourhood concept plan (NCP) has been approved.
Mayor Dianne Watts and Coun. Barinder Rasode were the only ones on city council to vote against the measure.
“It gives some developers unfair advantages over others. Other developers around the city have been waiting very patiently for property to be a part of an NCP process before they can move forward with a development,” Rasode told The Reporter.
“And in that process, some very significant questions are asked around schools, parks, infrastructure, transportation – all of those questions then sort of get sidelined.
“If we start doing (a) one-off in one area of town, why would the other developers not line up and ask us to do the same?”
An NCP guides a community’s density, transportation network, sewer systems, financing and land-use policies. Plans to determine the best unified strategy for a neighbourhood are created over years of consultation between city staff and residents.
Efforts to create an NCP for East Clayton stretch back to 2005 and, last November, the City of Surrey hosted an open house to provide residents an update on the NCP.
“It is a lengthy process, but it’s a lengthy process for a reason because it provides opportunity to do a thoughtful job,” Rasode said, adding the measure’s approval isn’t fair to residents and other developers who have stuck with the NCP process.
“This will cause concern because it’s not a long-term, thoughtful approach – it’s a one-off, which is not how we do work in the City of Surrey.”
Writing on behalf of one of the property owners, real estate agent Sukh Grewal described the rezoning as a “win-win proposition” for Surrey and the developers.
“Late last year demand for single family lots has picked up and we note there is very little single family lots available in the market,” Grewal wrote in a Jan. 6, 2014 letter to council.
“A single family development of these lands would help alleviate some of this pressure.”
Grewal did not return phone calls to The Reporter.