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‘Willoughby-style’ development gets go-ahead in Murrayville

Willoughby-style high density housing is coming to Murrayville, and, with the exception of Mayor Rick Green and Councillor Kim Richter, Township council has endorsed the move.

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 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 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.

“This proposal is just way too dense for that area,” Richter commented.

“We are talking about buffering agriculture but I don’t see how 1,000 people on eight acres is buffering agriculture. This is Willoughby-type density on the outskirts of Murrayville, and it’s not appropriate,” she added.

Green said he would not support the application for the same reason.

At a recent public hearing, a local physician drew council’s attention to a nearby concrete manufacturing plant, and raised concern about the distance from the property to amenities in Murrayville.

Council dismissed Dr. Mitchell Fagan’s concerns.

“What better and more beautiful place than on the edge of farmland,” Councillor Grant Ward said.

“We are growing three per cent per year. Where are we going to put these people? We have to put them where they can walk to nearby amenities. I don’t know why we don’t want Murrayville to build out to its full potential.”

Among Fagan’s arguments were that amenities such as the Murrayville Library are not within walking distance for most seniors, that sidewalks are inadequate, and that the proposed density is greater than in parts of Willoughby.

The distance from 228 Street and 48 Avenue to the library is 1.5 km — almost one mile. In some areas along 48 Avenue, sidewalks are narrower than the standard, and in some places are nonexistent.

Fagan also raised the issue of particulates from the concrete manufacturer polluting the air, noting that they would be detrimental to the health of seniors.

But Councillor Jordan Bateman said that no one has expressed concern for the health of students in the nearby Langley Christian Middle High School.

Speaking to the density, Bateman said, “We have the opportunity to add density in an area that is perfectly suited to it.”

The concrete plant is under orders to correct non-compliance with air quality regulations.

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