Concern expressed about changes to Comox entrance

A group of around 35 Comox residents gathered Wednesday to express their concerns, trying to prevent change to one of the main entrances into the town.

At a public hearing to consider a rezoning and development permit application for 221 Glacier View Drive (a seven-unit, multi-family residential development comprised of three detached dwellings and one four-unit townhouse), all eight residents who formally spoke, expressed their opinions against the proposed development.

Currently, the lot is zoned R1.1— single family and the proposed rezoning is to Comprehensive Development 16 — which includes accessory structures, home occupations, single family dwellings and townhouses. The density in the proposed rezoning is not to exceed 21 units per hectare.

Residents sited changing "first impressions" of people entering Comox, creating a new zoning category, trees slated for removal, and an increase in traffic as some of the main points against the proposed development.

"As you know, the proposed development site lies at the entrance to our Town. First impressions are important and lasting, often conveying the message of what visitors may expect to find in the town," said resident Jeremy Triggs, who spoke as the executive director of the Comox Town Residents' Association.

He expressed concerns about the sloping site and the overland flow of rainwater as well as seven mature trees which are slated for removal and traffic increases due to a rezoning to a higher density.

He asked council members to not approve the development in its current form, but suggested it could ask the developer to reduce or compact the number of residential units.

Strathcona Crescent resident Marilyn Machum echoed many of the concerns regarding trees and the entranceway into Comox.

"I know council has the best intention at heart, but when presented with a development permit, something seems to go wrong," she said. "I know we don't have a lot of land to develop, so when something comes up, we overdevelop."

Kent Holland, a former member of the Planning Advisory Committee, questioned why there is an Official Community Plan (OCP) in place if it constantly changes.

"Let's stick to it. It costs us money as taxpayers to create it, and I'm getting tired of the amount of times a developer comes our way and throws money at it," he noted. "The ink is not quite dry — let's stick to it."

Developer Guthrie Lefevre and Allan Fletcher of AFC Construction spoke in favour of the project, and highlighted key concerns presented by residents.

"We've worked on this project for two years with staff, and we're not taking it lightly," said Lefevre, who addressed issues concerning the location, vegetation, and the OCP.

Fletcher, who stated the property involved was inherited from a client, said growing up in the Comox Valley and having a background in marine biology, "the environment is paramount."

"Inevitably, communities do change, and development happens. We need to look at what kind of development needs to be done?" he said. "The buildings will last 100 years, and we're not celebrating the vehicle.

"It's a struggle; the Comox Valley is experiencing urban sprawl, and this is about people living there and walking into town. Yes, we lose the Douglas fir trees, but (projects like this) will improve the community."

The rezoning and development permit application are expected to be presented to council for third reading at the Dec. 5 meeting.

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