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New design and rezoning application in works for Coulter Berry

A new design for the controversial Coulter Berry Building has been unveiled. The developer plans to apply for rezoning to construct the building in Fort Langley, to get past a court ruling that halted work on the project in October. - Contributed drawing
A new design for the controversial Coulter Berry Building has been unveiled. The developer plans to apply for rezoning to construct the building in Fort Langley, to get past a court ruling that halted work on the project in October.
— image credit: Contributed drawing

The developer of the controversial Coulter Berry building has unveiled a revised version of the stalled project and served notice he will be applying for approval through rezoning as suggested by the judge who blocked construction last year.

Eric Woodward said the "Coulter Berry 2.0" design does away with a proposed multi-storey restaurant with a rooftop patio and reduces the number of residences from 10 to nine, removing some balconies in the process.

The look of the three-storey building in downtown Fort Langley has been changed to make it look like a collection of individual buildings, something Woodward calls "a more traditional main street design" than the previous version.

When Justice Joel Groves released his written reasons for halting work on the project in December, the Chilliwack judge said Township council was wrong to use a heritage alteration permit (HAP) to approve construction of the three-storey building that was bigger than the maximum size allowed in the heritage conservation area of downtown Fort Langley.

But the judge also wrote that council could legally change the zoning of downtown  Fort Langley to approve bigger buildings like Coulter Berry "through the usual process of public hearings and public consultations."

In a message posted online at www.coulterberry.com, Woodward said he would be applying for exactly that.

" … within Justice Groves' written decision he outlines very clearly that a rezoning would be perfectly reasonable and appropriate … " Woodward stated.

"For this situation to continue any longer than necessary is unacceptable," he added.

Woodward said the 'Heritage Hole' of the excavated site created by the stop-work order has hurt Fort Langley's merchants, delayed the undergrounding of overhead wiring and the installation of new street lighting at least a year.

Woodward estimates his company has lost $500,000 so far.

"I sincerely believe the Township of Langley will win an appeal, but the timeline for a successful appeal is still uncertain," Woodward went on to say.

The revised design replaces the multi-level restaurant with a single floor of high ceilings and a sidewalk patio at the front.

Woodward said the restaurant location will be the new home for Fort Langley's Republica Coffee Roasters, currently located in Gasoline Alley.

The developer has also widened a walk-through to the local supermarket and added more bicycle racks.

As well, three trees have been added to the second storey, the building's setback on the lane will be widened from six to eight feet for a wider sidewalk and solar panels will be installed.

"While the previously approved design was very good in its own right, I think we have come up with a revised proposal that is truly outstanding," Woodward said.

"The 'Heritage Hole' created by the lawsuit of a few to stop an approved project by any means has been a terrible, pointless chapter in Fort Langley's history," he added.

Coulter Berry was the subject of a lengthy public hearing before council approved it, and has faced continued opposition from  the Fort Langley Residents for Sustainable Development and the Langley Heritage Association.

Harold Whittell, a  director of the Fort Langley Residents for Sustainable Development, has said any rezoning would still have to follow the limits established by the Fort Langley official community plan (OCP).

"Any attempt by the Township to spot zone or circumvent these safeguards would be vehemently opposed," Whittell said.

The application was to be filed on Wednesday (Jan. 22).

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