Maple Ridge council nixes staff report, OKs condos

Project conflicts with Smart Growth on the Ground principles.

Maple Ridge council has given the green light for a condo project for 122nd Avenue, despite staff saying that the project conflicts with Maple Ridge’s smart-growth based town centre plan.

Bissky Architecture wants to build a four-storey, 59-unit apartment building at 22305 and 22315 – 122nd Ave., in the middle of the 22300-block of 122nd Avenue.

But developing that project without incorporating the two smaller properties that bookend the two lots will make it more difficult in the future to build smaller, viable projects on either side, leading to possible empty lots, lack of underground parking and a gap in sidewalks or street lights.

The town centre plan requires that lots be assembled so new projects can be built that have enough housing units to achieve density goals for the downtown.

Despite a staff report making those points though, council though told staff to prepare a zoning bylaw allowing the development.

That surprised Coun. Corisa Bell, who said the landowners had almost reached a deal to re-arrange the properties, that would have allowed them both to have higher density development.

“I was absolutely, completely baffled,” she said Wednesday.

“It’s very unfair for other landowners in the community.

“I think we’re trying way too hard for developers, as opposed to what’s best for the community and its citizens.

“This just proves to me that council will approve absolutely anything.”

Staff pointed to the Smart Growth on the Ground-inspired town centre plan that says lots should be assembled, requiring cooperation of neighbouring owners so that enough space is created allow high-density buildings with underground parking.

But it’s been difficult to work out an arrangement, between the developer who wants to put the building and single landowner who owns both lots on either side.

A staff report says as much, noting there have been “numerous communications” with the other landowner.

One option would be for the developer to provide the services for all the lots.

Bell said most of the details between the two land owners seemed to have been laid out and only would have required a few weeks’ extention before the property could have been consolidated.

“It just seemed like they needed more time and they were making progress.”

Mayor Ernie Daykin, though, says it’s possible the two landowners could reach a deal in the next few weeks, even though council told staff to write a zoning change allowing the original proposal.

“It’s not our role, in my view, to force two parties together, to be the mediator.”

Bell said Thursday that the developer just gave the other landowner until June 10 to reach a deal.