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Council backs ALR housing

A rezoning application that will permit housing on farmland passed third reading at Township council on July 11.

However, the proponent will be required to make a contribution to the Langley Sustainability Agricultural Foundation, which is aimed at enhancing agricultural viability in the municipality.

“It’s very confusing,” Councillor Mel Kositsky commented.

“It’s bad planning policy,” he said, adding, “I don’t know what the Agricultural Land Commission was thinking.”

The ALC rejected an application to remove three parcels covering 11 acres at 4386 216 St., and 21696 and 21846 44 Ave. from the reserve, but allowed the proponents, who include Alan Hendricks and other owners, to subdivide to create 21 houses within the ALR.

The proponents had argued that the property’s long frontage of 2,100 feet and its narrow depth of 179 feet put serious constraint on agricultural use, and said that farm uses are not compatible “with a nice residential neighbourhood across the street.”

The ALC concluded in March, 2010 that the land “has agricultural capability” and is appropriately designated in the ALR. But it also wrote that the property is “not very suitable for agricultural use.”

A recommendation of the ALC and the Langley Agricultural Advisory Commission, the foundation is similar to those in other municipalities. But it is relatively new in Langley, having been established only this year. Just how much Hendricks and the other land owners will have to contribute must be decided before council considers final reading of the bylaw.

Kositsky, backed by Councillor Kim Richter, wanted council to defer third reading of the rezoning bylaw so that uncertainties about the foundation could be cleared up.

“We need to clearly identify what the benefit is to agriculture,” Richter said.

Councillor Grant Ward defended building houses on farm land. “There is good land and bad land (in the ALR),” he said. “This is part of the bad land.”

He called the motion to defer third reading “a delaying tactic.”

The motion to defer was defeated, and council gave the bylaw third reading with only Kositsky opposed.

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