Neighbours angry about impending townhouse complex

Petition with nearly 100 names fails to sway Langford council

More than 90 Langford residents are opposed to the rezoning of seven properties to create a townhouse complex and are frustrated the project went ahead without their opinions being taken into account.

They feel the addition of a 20-unit townhouse complex to their neighbourhood, which received third reading by Langford council last week following a public hearing, will negatively affect not only their way of life, but also their property values. The townhouse complex takes the place of seven single-family homes previously planned for the site.

The properties in question, part of a subdivision off Happy Valley Road west of Olympic View Golf Club, were previously rezoned from agricultural use to comprehensive development to create the Valley View subdivision of single-family homes. They were later rezoned again to allow seven additional lots.

Now the applicant – Richard Irwin of Irwin Consulting, on behalf of TJBS Properties – wants to consolidate those seven properties into one and create a nine-unit and an 11-unit block of townhouses.

The City of Langford had received a petition signed by 96 neighbours of the proposed townhouse complex on Wild Ridge Way, expressing opposition to the proposal. Many were at the meeting itself to speak against the project, as well.

“I bought on the assumption that the whole neighbourhood was going to be single-family,” said one of those residents, Ridge Pond Drive homeowner Gerry Troesch, who bought his home in 2008. “I asked the city specifically what all of that area was going to be developed as. This isn’t the downtown core. I mean, we’re on the border of Langford and Metchosin here.

“I’m just upset because it’s not going to be within the density that we were told it was going to be when we bought here. Why wouldn’t they have zoned it that way in the first place if that’s what they wanted it to be?”

Troesch said many of the residents’ concerns surround parking – which they say is already terrible – and additional traffic congestion due to the increased population density. Those concerns seemed to fall on deaf ears at the public hearing, he said.

“I was rather surprised about their attitude. It seemed like they had their minds made up ahead of time. It really leaves a bad taste in your mouth to just be ignored like that. I don’t think it would have made a sniff of difference if every resident in town said they didn’t want it,” he said. “Our concerns weren’t even registered.”

Langford director of planning Matthew Baldwin said he thinks Irwin did a good job of explaining that more than the necessary parking spaces will be added to the development, an explanation that quelled some, but not all, of the residents’ concerns at the hearing.

“Any time there’s a change in use, there are going to be people who don’t like it,” Baldwin said.

The developer is now required to do a geotechnical survey of the properties to ensure they are conducive to this type of project before it can go through the development permit stage of the process, he said.

As for Troesch and the rest of the upset neighbours, “I guess we just deal with it,” he said with a sigh.

“We are just supposed to tell them if there ends up being traffic problems or whatever once it’s done, and they say they’ll look at it then. They tell us they don’t think our property values will go down, either, but we’ll see.”

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