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'Green' townhouse design rejected in favour of heritage look

Proposed design for a townhouse development (on right) on the site of the old Baptist church at 47A and Delta Streets.  - Contributed
Proposed design for a townhouse development (on right) on the site of the old Baptist church at 47A and Delta Streets.
— image credit: Contributed

What would have been the first "green" roof development in Delta was shot down by council Monday night (Dec. 17) after councillors decided it didn't look right for the Ladner Village neighbourhood.

The architect on the project, Brian Hart, said council and staff have emphasized the need for more modern, environmentally friendly roofs, which were incorporated in this design.

However, council agreed with a 101-signature petition opposing the form and character of the modern "box-like" design which would have been situated behind the old Baptist church at 47a Avenue and Delta Street.

"The folks in the audience made it clear they're not objecting to the development, they're objecting to the form and character," said Coun. Scott Hamilton.

Developer Steve Knoblauch expressed disappointment in a Tuesday (Dec. 18) morning interview, but said he was going to move on and bring back a new design in January.

"We went through the process and the process has spoken, so now we move forward," he said. "I guess Delta isn't ready for sustainable housing yet."

He said the development was designed with an environmentally-friendly roof because that's what Delta council wanted, but "green" roofs have to be flat.

"You can't put a green roof on a peaked roof. Maybe someday they might figure out how to do it but you can't. How do you get up there to cut the grass and the vegetables if it's not walkable?" he said. "Those roofs are technology that Vancouver's adopted. There were solar panels on them that were going to heat the hot water in your house. So, I will just be building what the public wants me to build."

Hart has argued there are already several modern flat-roof buildings in the neighbourhood, including some that are four stories. He also objected to the petition's assertion the development would negatively affect market values of other houses in the neighbourhood.

"The inclusion of this statement in the petition fatally flaws the petition," he said, adding it's easy to get 100 signatures on a petition by making such a claim.

But resident Lynne Webb, who spearheaded the petition, said people signed the petition after seeing the design, not because of property values.

"As councillors, we can't just take petitions and roll them up and throw them in the trash, we have to listen to what neighbours think," said Coun. Ian Paton.

Jocelyne Yhalomi, another resident, applauded the development's restoration and relocation of the heritage church, built in 1902, but said the design of the townhouses contrasted with it.

"Ladner Village is a destination that people from all over the Lower Mainland visit in order to enjoy its small town look and charm."

Webb argued the development was being put in a heritage conservation area, but after clarification from the municipal clerk, the development actually falls outside of the heritage conservation area zoning of the Official Community Plan and is zoned mixed use heritage.

Council will allow a temporary use permit on the Baptist church to allow the developer to finish the interior and get immediate occupancy.

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