A compromise could leave at least one Langford resident resting a little easier.
A handful of Skirt Mountain residents voiced concerns over privacy, an increase in truck traffic and other construction-related nuisances at Monday’s council meeting.
A public hearing was held on a zoning amendment for 1431 Grand Forest Cl. that would, if passed by council, allow more one-family dwelling lots to be added to the property.
The original intention was to make the lots larger, estate-style properties, but the owner has since decided a different approach would be better suited for the area. The applicant also requested that the required open space be reduced from approximately 55 per cent of lands within the area, to 40 per cent.
Neighbouring resident John Goudy, whose property overlooks the development, was the first to speak at the public hearing. Soft-spoken, he asked that the maximum number of houses proposed for the development be clarified.
“At this stage we don’t feel it’s appropriate to put a density cap on, looking at other zoning bylaws,” said Jared Steingard with Westbrook Consulting Ltd., speaking for property owner Arngask Developments Inc.
He noted the process is very costly and a lot can change between now and when the site is fully built out. Working with a challenging topography is also requiring some flexibility in the planning stages, he said.
“We haven’t gone into a very detailed analysis of the site and that’s why we’re using big numbers,” he added.
“The maximum were looking to add is … plus or minus 20 beyond what’s already being developed.”
Steingard also noted the owner wished to leave the areas that would have the most impact on Goudy’s property until the final phase.
When asked if that answered his question, Goudy politely replied that it didn’t, and wished to know exactly how many houses he could be looking at.
Langford Mayor Stew Young stepped in to mediate the back-and-forth discussion. “You’d better be really clear with us now,” he said, again asking exactly how many additional lots they were seeking to add.
It was clarified that neighbouring residents could be looking at 20 additional lots, plus the six already there and not including the developer’s own home.
Young suggested that as a compromise, the applicant could look at alternative designs that didn’t impact Goudy’s property.
“We have tried to look at what areas are the most environmentally sensitive and the middle of the property has the most habitat and biology that needs to be preserved. So we’ve tried to look at some fringe areas and what we’ve come up with, we feel, is a good balance,” Steingard said.
He noted the plan calls for a clustering of houses further away from Goudy’s property, but there are some lots that would impact his view.
He indicated the developer would be willing to work around those lots for now.
Young asked how long Goudy could expect those lots to be left vacant.
After a quick conversation with the developer, Steingard said they would be willing to leave the two lots that would have the most impact on Goudy for a five-year window.
Well-known West Shore businessman Les Bjola also stood to voice his concerns.
“I’m reluctant to speak but I’m going to speak on behalf of my friend,” he said, nodding to Goudy.
“Back in 2005, when I did the original subdivision of the Goudy property, we did a lot of restrictive covenants … to protect Mr. and Mrs. Goudy, and at the time we came up with seven estate lots up at the top,” he said of the area now being developed.
“We thought that would be a nice use of the land and it would protect the land. We’ve proven the invention of dynamite can actually alter anything you want, and that concerns me on behalf of Mr. Goudy in terms of what that’s going to do to the land he tried to protect.”
Other residents were also concerned the new development would only have one access, through Grand Forest Close. Young assured residents that City staff would work with the developer to come up with a site construction plan to help address concerns and optimize work on-site, limiting some of the construction traffic. He also noted staff would be looking at traffic options for the area.
Later in the meeting, council gave second and third reading to the zoning amendment, adding a covenant that the two parcels having the most impact on Goudy not be developed for five years.