More building, complaints
Nearly twice as many homes as previously planned will be built on a key property at a Burke Mountain junction and one Coquitlam councillor says that decision has some neighbours angry.
Coun. Brent Asmundson, a Burke Mountain resident, said he has heard complaints about the 19 townhomes planned for the northwest corner of David Avenue and Coast Meridian Road, a site that was supposed to have only 10 single-family houses.
On Monday, Asmundson blasted city council for setting a “bad precedent” to give final reading to rezone 1310 Coast Meridian Rd., calling it unfair for area homeowners who bought their properties thinking that site would have low density. “I’ve spoken with the residents up there and they feel quite betrayed and let down,” he said. “They’re quite upset this is happening in their neighbourhood.”
The property’s history dates back several years when the former owners, Barry and Linda Sheridan, tried to sub-divide their land for 10 houses but faced a number of hurdles, including access, as three sides of the parcel are designated environmentally sensitive.
Fast forward to 2011 — and with a new property owner — and “things do change in time,” Coquitlam planning GM Jim McIntyre said at last month’s land use committee, noting Fisheries and Oceans Canada budged, found a way to make the land developable and allow an access at Coast Meridian Road.
“This piece of property is really troublesome,” Coun. Lou Sekora said. “When Mr. Sheridan had this property, he fought for two years to try to get 10 lots out of it... Now, all of sudden, this developer is able to get 19 units instead of 10 units. He’s also able to get access to Coast Meridian Road and the previous developer couldn’t get it.
“That’s not a level playing field,” he said.
Meanwhile, Asmundson said there’s growing concern on Burke Mountain about density changes from the Northeast Coquitlam Area Plan (NECAP), which calls for 24,000 more residents over the next 15 years.
Designated single-family zones, like at 1310 Coast Meridian Rd., are turning into townhomes or row housing. Last fall, in a letter to the city, Freda Hart, president of the Northeast Coquitlam Ratepayers’ Association, commented about small lots and houses being squeezed in “when there is so much land on Burke Mountain.”
Last October, council approved a checklist to keep Burke developers on track after staff noticed many were deviating from NECAP and the official community plan (OCP).
NECAP calls for about 7,640 homes on Burke, though a recent staff report noted 200 more homes — or 7% — have gone up since building on Burke started four years ago in the three neighbourhoods now under construction: Upper Hyde Creek, Lower Hyde Creek and Smiling Creek. Those three zones were expected to accommodate 2,798 homes but, at this rate, build-out will be 2,994 units, putting pressure on utility services, roads and parks.
The topic of massing also came up at last month’s public hearing, where several Burke development bids went through, including a 41-unit townhouse development at 3395 Galloway Ave. and 1359 Coast Meridian Rd. — a site that was supposed to have only 35 single-family units (staff contend the building footprints are “virtually identical” and the new subdivision adds more green space).
“We are putting more people in more [homes]. That wasn’t the plan, folks,” said Sandra Marsden, who was on the Smiling Creek Neighbourhood Plan advisory group and who spoke at last month’s public hearing.
Mayor Richard Stewart argued the 19 townhomes at David Avenue and Coast Meridian Road are “entirely appropriate” given its high-traffic location. “This corner is a pretty integral part of the Burke Mountain development,” said Coun. Mae Reid, chair of the land use committee. “I like the 19 townhouses. We could have had 10 single-family houses with 10 basement suites.”
The rezoning for 1310 Coast Meridian Rd. was opposed by councillors Asmundson, Sekora and Doug Macdonell.