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Heritage guidelines meant to control development, not stop it
Editor: It was a sad day for the future of Fort Langley when the judge set aside the heritage alteration permit to allow the Coulter Berry building to be built.
What of the future?
The heritage guidelines were put in place to control development, not stop it.
They were also put in place while the decaying Interfor mill occupied the north side of the tracks.
New zoning was put in place to allow residential use and even then, after only three or four years, council issued a variance to the new zoning there to allow an extra storey on some buildings.
The world is still turning and there was no commercial interest in stopping it as it meant more potential customers.
There is now a significant population on that property and they need services.
The Coulter Berry building meets the façade requirements and is the most sustainable type of construction that is currently available, what more can one ask?
While the Fort Langley Citizens for Sustainable Development are passionate in their belief, they are turning the town into a no-development zone.
First, if the Coulter Berry developer chooses to continue (I don’t think I would after all the alterations to accommodate the public input I’d already made) it will delay the project by months if not years.
That means additional costs that make the project even less viable.
Why would any other developer even consider working here when Surrey is in boom mode and the investment is much stronger there?
Second, if the developer chooses to cut his losses and walk away, the property has been devalued to the point of needing to hold it until the local population changes enough to do something without major campaigns and court battles.
We now have a hole in the middle of town that will not enhance any new traffic and the traffic will eventually reduce to the point of hurting the viability of other businesses in town (remember the drought of no grocery store that we are just getting over?).
Third, what kind of developers will the town now draw? If everything is going to be a tough challenge here, the values drop as the costs are undeterminable in advance.
There seems to be a opinion that the town can have democratic input on design and have been allowed more than normal in this case.
A hard-fought-for ‘no’ means high risk to anyone else.
Why take it?
Why not move on?
Therefore, I see the Fort Langley Citizens for Sustainable Development have effectively stopped development.
If they wanted Barkerville, it looks like they will get it sooner than they thought.