A landowner who owns several acres of agricultural land on Graham Avenue is closer to realizing his goal of developing a residential complex there after successfully getting the land rezoned at last night’s city council meeting.
After a public hearing report and some vocal opposition from concerned residents on the matter, council unanimously passed the recommendation to rezone the land and to amend the city’s official community plan bylaw allowing him to do it.
Councillor Lynne Christiansen abstained from voting due to a conflict of interest.
The landowner, Rod Pelletier, initially applied to amend the official community plan and zoning for his property on 4643 Graham Ave. on May 18.
The application was initially read by council during the June 13 meeting.
Up until last night’s decision, his property was zoned as agricultural. He had wanted to rezone his property as low density multi-family residential and get it classified as urban residential under Terrace’s official community plan.
Pelletier said his intention is to use 1.6 hectares of the land, roughly two-thirds of it, to build approximately 52 residential units there.
He said a main focus of his development will be to provide housing to adults over 55-years-old.
“We have a need for retirement living,” Pelletier. “I think this proposal is fitting the needs of the community in more than one way.”
He also added that since the southern portion of his property is in the agricultural land reserve, it could be used to provide a food source for his development and the community.
City planner Tara Irwin, who prepared the report for last night’s public hearing, said Pelletier’s proposal presented potential opportunities and challenges for the community.
“The proposed bylaw amendments could help to meet some of the demand for diversity of dwelling types in our community, and especially aging residents.”
“However, we know we have a number of large properties that have been rezoned, that have been through a similar process… and our now sitting undeveloped,” Irwin said.
Irwin also read some letters the city had received from residents who were concerned that rezoning the land and allowing the possibility of development there would be harmful to the community.
Many of the letters from residents expressed concern over removing agricultural land, arguing that it was important to maintain Terrace’s farming potential.
Other residents took issue over the potential for noisy, disruptive construction work and increased traffic congestion brought on by a new development.
Irwin said that overall the city had not received too much feedback over the proposed bylaw and official community plan amendments.
Councillor Stacey Tyers said it was a difficult decision because striking the balance between developing housing and maintaining agricultural land for farming was a tough choice.
“But it is such an awkward property to be doing farming on,” Tyers said. “I wish we didn’t have to pick between food and housing – that’s not a nice place to be. But in the end, I will support the recommendation simply because the property is such an awkward property for farming.”
Pelletier’s land on 4643 Graham Ave. is directly next to many single-family detached homes and also lies adjacent to an area zoned for mobile homes.
Although Pelletier successfully had his property rezoned at last night’s council meeting, he will now have to continue with development applications and permits in order to move forward with his proposed project.