Nicki Place resident Tony Jennings stands atop the retaining wall in his back yard in Langford. His property backs onto 300 Phelps Ave.

Post-hearing development input critical: Langford man

Townhome project construction manager willing to work with neighbouring residents

The saga continues for a resident of a Thetis Heights neighbourhood in Langford who fears the worst in relation to a neighbouring development.

“I’m trying to figure out what they’ll leave me with,” said Tony Jennings, whose property on Nicki Place backs onto a residential construction site at 300 Phelps Ave.

The land behind him was once covered in trees, a forest view he said was the reason he chose his home in the Nicki Place strata development, and paid an extra $20,000 to $30,000. But the loss of green space isn’t what has him most upset.

Jennings is concerned about what could soon be staring back at him and possibly into his children’s bedrooms. He was shocked to find out there is no formal process for further public input after a property is rezoned.

“Langford is telling me that once it’s rezoned there’s nothing you can do,” he said. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

While Jennings voiced his concerns about the multi-unit townhome development last year during the rezoning process, he thought he would get another chance to have his say once development permits were filed for approval.

A real estate listing for the property, unveiled last summer after council voted to rezone the land, showed several artist renderings of the project, one of which showed seven roughly three-storey townhouse units. With the building permit applications still being reviewed by the City, this visual remains all that residents have seen of plans for the site.

Langford planning director Matthew Baldwin confirmed the property is zoned to allow a maximum building height of nine metres, the same as adjoining properties to the north.

Such a limit typically allows for a structure of two-and-a-half storeys on flat land, he said. Since height is measured from the average finished grade, he added, it could be possible to create a partial third storey on sloping land.

If something at the top end of those height restrictions is built, it could overlook Jennings’ home, the only one on Nicki Place that, once blasting is finished, will be on roughly the same grade as the development.

Other neighbours backing onto 300 Phelps Ave. are roughly 10 to 15 feet above grade.

“You’re going to place something there that’s going to look directly into my daughter’s bedroom, my son’s bedroom and my kitchen,” he said. “(The) building and planning (departments) have some responsibility to the Langford residents (who are) already there.”

His solution to the problem is simple. He wants to see the last unit, the one that would be behind his house, turned sideways. This “win-win” solution as he called it, would see that last unit have a forest view of the Thetis Lake trails and would still allow him some privacy.

When contacted by the Gazette, Martin Schenk, owner of Eagle Pacific Developments, the project construction manager for property owner Norkess Development Inc., said he had not heard any concerns from neighbours.

“I’m surprised. It’s a really nice development,” he said. “We’re there to keep the neighbours happy.”

The current site plans, he said, call for seven buildings with four units in each for a total of 28 townhouses, on which construction is planned to start in March.

“We may be able to alter the design,” Schenk said, adding they are more than willing to work with neighbours to try to find a solution that works for all parties. “It’s going to be an adjustment … We’re on their side, we understand.”

Told of the potential for flexibility, Jennings was happy to hear that Schenk was willing to listen to his concerns.

Eagle Pacific has a good reputation in the community for working with neighbouring residents and keeping them happy, Schenk said, noting that this development would be no different.

Baldwin said while no formal process exists for public input after a rezoning, he is always happy to discuss as much of an development permit application as he can with residents such as Jennings who may have any concerns.

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