Maureen Robertson stands on a property where a new townhouse complex is proposed. Robertson and her neighbours have fought the complex for a year but are reluctantly accepting a compromise that will see 40 units built on the site.

Maureen Robertson stands on a property where a new townhouse complex is proposed. Robertson and her neighbours have fought the complex for a year but are reluctantly accepting a compromise that will see 40 units built on the site.

Pitt residents accept townhome compromise

After fighting what they call 'overwhelming infill' for a year, Mitchell Road residents are reluctantly accepting change in neighbourhood.

There’s a death knell sounding for an oak tree which casts a large shadow on a lot opposite Maureen Robertson’s house, or so she fears.

She doubts the leafy giant, which is probably close to a century old, will find a home in the Brogden Brown development, a new 40-unit townhouse complex planned for the site.

“It would be nice it if they could save it,” Robertson said.

Tenacious as she is, Robertson has accepted she must compromise. For the past year, she and her neighbours have battled city hall and a developer, who plans to build the townhomes on three properties totalling 0.97 hectares (2.3 acres) on Mitchell Road.

Initially pitched as a 63-townhouse complex, Brogden Brown’s developer has reduced the size of the project twice to 43 units, just two storeys each. They’ve also included a playground, more permeable areas, more greenery, and more room for recycling and garbage storage after complaints from concerned neighbours.

The development fits with the city’s vision for the future to densify its urban core, with smaller, more compact, or “infill” housing. The proposal now has similar density to the surrounding townhouse developments

For Robertson and her neighbours, who cherish their “nice, quiet subdivision” filled with single family homes, the initial pitch was a shock. When they found out city hall staff had been discussing plans with the developer six months before neighbours were informed, they were incensed.

“By then, it was too late,” said Robertson.

“Some of the residents in our nice, quiet subdivision have been here for over 25 years. And this is the third development that they have had to fight. Shouldn’t current residents matter more than future taxpayers?”

Since the project fit with the city’s official community plan, neighbours couldn’t stop the townhome project, but vowed to fight to reduce the size of the development, in an effort to prevent traffic jams and doubling the population of Mitchell Road.

At the first information meeting, 20 residents turned up to voice their concerns by the time the project went to public hearing, 40 irate residents gave city councillors a earful.

Robertson wants city hall to tweak its planning process to involve neighbours in discussion before any plans are drawn up. She thinks it would be prudent for developers to gauge a neighbourhood’s feelings before proposing what amounts to “overwhelming infill.”

Danielle Linfoot agrees.

“It took a year of fighting to get here,” said Linfoot. “I’m tired. I just wish we were consulted from the start.”

The City of Pitt Meadows, however, believes its consultation process for proposed developments is more than adequate.

Before any plans are presented to city council, developers must hold information meetings with residents and advertise them for two weeks before the meeting date as well as post signs on the property. Notices are mailed to surrounding property owners. The process then move a rezoning application, if the property needs to be rezones and a public hearing.

Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walter believes Brogden Brown’s developer has gone over and above informing the neighbourhood.

“We’ve listened to all the neighbours’ concerns, right down to where the garbage bins will be located. I think it’s been a tremendous compromise,” Walters said.

The bottom line is the people who are opposed to it want single family housing in that area.”

• A public hearing on the Brogden Brown townhouse development takes place at 7 p.m., Oct. 1 at city hall.