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310 housing units proposed for outskirts of Murrayville

A handful of speakers addressing Township council at a public hearing on Monday held widely different views on why a proposal for 310 homes in Murrayville should not go ahead.

Sandhill Development has applied to rezone eight acres on the northeast corner of 48 Avenue and 228 Street for a phased development of 310 units, 200 of which are for seniors. Sandhill proposes to build a wide mix of housing, such as duplexes, townhouses, stacked townhouses, and apartments that allow seniors to “age in place.”

The proposal requires an amendment to the Langley Official Community Plan to place the heavily-wooded property in the Designated Urban Growth area.

It also requires an amendment to the Murrayville Community Plan to extend the urban boundary and designate the site institutional.

Zoned for small farm country estates, the land is not in the Agricultural Land Reserve. It is surrounded by ALR farmland to the north, Langley Christian Elementary to the east, a church to the west, and four country estate lots to the south.

Local physician Mitchell Fagan raised a number of concerns. These included insufficient on-site parking, a lack of sidewalks, amenities such as the Murrayville Library that are not within walking distance for most seniors, and inadequate public transport.

Fagan argued that not only is the density of the development greater than in parts of Willoughby, it is premature for Murrayville.

Langley Memorial Hospital is already overburdened with patients, and money the developer would be required to pay towards parks would be better spent on health care, he said.

“I’m tired of looking after patients in hallways, between Emergency and X-ray,” Fagan told council.

Other residents told council of their concerns about traffic on narrow, busy 48 Avenue and 228 Street.

Jacob de Raadt, a traffic engineer, criticized the layout, arguing that it is inadequate for seniors who drive cars. He wondered how vehicles such as HandiDart would be able to turn around.

Ramin Seifi, the Township’s head planner, advised that the plan shown in the application package is preliminary.

Kenny Chow, a traffic analyst speaking for the proponent, said that a traffic impact study estimated that the development would generate 130 in-and-out vehicle movements in peak afternoon periods.

Sonya Paterson suggested that it is unwise to assume seniors in the complex will not have cars.

“It’s hard to believe that these seniors will not have cars,” she said, adding that earlier this year her 98-year-old mother-in-law and her 90-year-old father had their licences renewed for another five years.

Paterson also urged council to “wait until the hospital is updated” before approving such a large development.

Council will consider third reading of the bylaws on July 11.

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