Letter: Council legally obligated to consider zoning applications for Brookswood-Fernridge

Editor: Recent letters to the editor have questioned why Township of Langley Council would consider any zoning applications in Brookswood-Fernridge before the minor update to the area’s Community Plan is completed.

Most recently, resident Wayne Crossen suggested approval of any of these applications would be a “betrayal of trust by council members.”

I would like to clarify that zoning applications in Brookswood-Fernridge must be considered by council because it is our legal obligation to do so.

Even though the current 1987 plan is currently being reviewed for an update, those proposed updates have not been passed by council and are only at the initial stages.

Therefore, the 1987 plan is the only Plan council has to follow at this time. Within that plan, owners have the right to make zoning applications to the Township, and as is dictated by our bylaws, council must consider all applications put forward.

Since it was passed nearly 30 years ago, there have been many attempts to update and revise the Brookswood-Fernridge Community Plan.

The last updated plan was presented to Council in 2014, but was defeated with a vote of 7-2.  In January 2016, council and staff started working towards another updated plan, which will be presented to council later this year or early in 2017, following an extensive public engagement process.

Until that time, owners have the opportunity to bring forward applications under the existing 1987 plan and council is legally obligated to consider them.

It should be noted there are many applications to rezone in this area that date back several years. When they were originally submitted to the Township, the council of the day said it could not deal with the applications until neighbourhood planning and servicing issues had been dealt with.

Currently, there are six applications in the process of seeking rezoning. The current applications comply with the 1987 Community Plan and are striving to resolve these issues. The owners are following the process with due diligence.

The suggestion that development proposals be put on hold until the current plan update is completed — effectively imposing a moratorium — is not possible. Legally, such a moratorium could be permitted for up to six months. With the current plan now approaching 30 years, there is no way that any moratorium would be sustained in court.

As well, it must be pointed out there is no certainty that this current process will result in the proposed update being approved. In that case, the residents of Brookswood would continue to be legally permitted to make applications for development in accordance with the 1987 plan.

Council will remain vigilant and ensure that any zoning applications within Brookswood-Fernridge are given appropriate and due process. However, disallowing them would be breaking the law — something this council is not willing to do.

Charlie Fox,

Township of Langley Council

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