Artist rendering for the expanded Leavitt facility. Submitted image

Neighbours say ‘Leavitt alone’ to industrial property expansion

Residents object to expansion of Leavitt Machinery site during July 24 public hearing

A group of Otter residents are asking the Township to “Leavitt alone” when it comes to a rezoning application from Leavitt Machinery.

The company, located at 24389 Fraser Hwy, has purchased a two-acre property directly behind their lot on 244 Street with the hopes of expanding.

They plan to turn their Langley shop — one of nearly 30 locations in Western Canada and the United States — into an industrial office, training and maintenance facility.

However their rural neighbours in the surrounding area believe this expansion will be a disruption to their country lifestyle.

At a public hearing on July 24, 10 people spoke against the project, with none speaking in favour.

Link Dance, a longtime Aldergrove resident, wrote council a ‘we say Leavitt alone’ letter that outlines a number of his objections, including potential effects to the Hopington aquifer, loss of privacy, and increased light pollution from the company’s industrial lights.

Among his concerns, he is worried about noise from the training facility. He played the backup beep used by heavy machinery for council, relaying that this is the noise he will be listening to for hours each day.

“Please take this under consideration as if it were your backyard,” he said.

Monica Zoerb said she has environmental concerns with how the industrial activities will affect the aquifer and drinking water, especially if a spill occurs.

“With more equipment on site, the potential for contamination of the drinking water for the whole area will increase substantially,” she said.

Mike Morelli’s family has been in Langley since 1903, and he has owned his property on 40 Avenue for 41 years. He recalls when the Leavitt site was a lumber yard, and that when the lumber company looked into expanding back in the 1970s, they were denied.

“I’m a little surprised that’s actually going to happen now,” he said.

“I’m all for development of businesses and that sort of stuff — I run a business in Surrey. That being said, put a business where it’s supposed to be. My business is in Port Kells; it’s a commercial property, that’s what it’s for.”

Loren Dance, has lived in the area for 54 years and calls himself the “grandfather of that community.” He, too, is concerned about water.

“My first well I put in was down 121 feet. Because of allowing the application of the trailer park across Fraser Highway, it dropped. I ended up (having) to drill at 200 feet to get water … Now that aquifer is dropping every year, and it’s dropping drastically.

“And if they’re allowed to go onto the well system with 100 people, they will drain us dry in no time at all. And do you know the value of a home without water? Nothing.”

But the proponent says the changes coming to the site will actually help alleviate some of the issues brought up by residents.

“There will be less servicing, there will be less chance for spills, there will be no rentals, no repairs conducted on site. All of the work, all the training will be conducted inside the buildings,” said Christopher Correia of Pacific Land Group, who spoke on behalf of the owner.

“And so we feel that as one of the current uses, sales activity, will be removed from the site, there will be less traffic on the site as well as the adjacent roads.”

In terms of water quality, Correia said they’ve had a hydrologist review the site and “we will do all that we can to ensure that no contamination is going to be placed on the aquifer because it’s in our best interest, Leavitt’s best interest, that the water quality be maintained.”

They will also install mechanisms to capture oil and have spill containment setups in place, he said. As well, they plan to install brand new lighting, which can be equipped with dimmers, and will meet the Township’s noise bylaw.