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Mansion now eyed for contentious Finn Road farm

Farmers Ray Galawan and Bob Featherstone once blockaded the entrance to a Finn Road farm in an effort to halt the dumping of demolition materials on the land.  - Chyme Hendess file photo
Farmers Ray Galawan and Bob Featherstone once blockaded the entrance to a Finn Road farm in an effort to halt the dumping of demolition materials on the land.
— image credit: Chyme Hendess file photo

A farm on Finn Road whose change in use prompted a months-long protest could soon become the site of a luxury mansion, The Richmond Review has learned.

The 13.5-hectare property at 9360 Finn Rd. drew the attention of protesters in 2013 when construction began on an access road to accommodate a tree nursery.

Protesters under the banner FarmWatch B.C. took issue with the use of demolition materials to build the road.

Site preparation eventually ground to a halt, and this week one of the principals behind the nursery said the project has been abandoned.

“We’re out of it,” said Bill Jones. “It’s a dead deal.”

Jones said the decision was that of the landowner.

“We had a satisfactory arrangement, and we just left the matter,” he said. “We’re not sure what their plans are, but they don’t involve us.”

The land, previously owned by the Jiang family’s Canada Future Investment Co., is now in the hands of Chaolin Zeng, property records show.

No formal applications to build on the land have been made to Richmond City Hall, but early talks suggest a mansion is being eyed for the farmland.

“Our staff have had some preliminary discussions with an architect, representing the owner, who has provided some preliminary plans for a very large single family dwelling and accessory building,” said Ted Townsend, city spokesperson.

Those preliminary plans don’t comply with the existing AG1 zoning, but Townsend said there’s been no indication the owner would seek a non-farm use application that rezoning would require.

AG1 zoning is a farm status that allows construction of one principal dwelling unit—subject to restrictions largely related to lot coverage, setbacks and height. But a luxury mansion wouldn’t be out of character for Finn Road.

Some recently-built homes in the area include a sprawling mansion at 8731 Finn Rd., whose 2011 building permit carried a construction value of $1.6 million, and another house at 9491 Finn Rd., with a building permit value of $1.1 million.

In January 2013, farmers Ray Galawan and Bob Featherstone blockaded the driveway of 9360 Finn Rd. with tractors after watching asphalt and large chunks of concrete cover a strip of once-farmed soil.

Galawan said Thursday he’s recently seen surveyors staking out the property, and the possibility of a mega-house has long been his fear.

“That property, it does not have a house on it. They’re allowed to put a house on it. That’s what scares us,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they say there’s another mega-mansion going up, the same as the corner of 3 and Finn. Another blinking hotel is what we call it.”

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