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Why is a developer allowed to harass a neighbourhood over and over again?
Richmond planning staff have recommended that Richmond city council deny the Lingyen Mega Retreat application, because the development team will not obey the No. 5 Road backlands policy. Staff asked Lingyen Mountain Temple to revise its application “but the applicant declined to make these changes, and advised that the current proposal reflects the desires of the temple for the expansion.”
It is shocking that the temple would not be willing to work with planning staff. The visual and physical impact of the proposed building heights are of concern to staff and there is no precedent for a variance of this magnitude and yet the Lingyen development team show no signs of having a willingness to working with the City of Richmond.
CalmR, the citizens’ group formed in the neighbourhood has had the same response from Lingyen Mountain Temple when we requested a meeting to discuss how it could work with the neighbourhood to garner support for a reduced expansion.
Staff have stated that the development “would be out of character” with the existing institutions along No. 5 Road and they have “serious concerns with the scope of the requested height variance.” When it comes to parking, staff have stated that “details on these arrangements have not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the city.” When it comes to the agricultural part of the project, “staff have concerns with the significant variance from council policy.”
The Lingyen temple has created four proposals in 10 years and if this application is denied then they could come back in 12 months with another project. Why is a developer allowed to harass a neighbourhood over and over again? Why can't the Lingyen group learn to accept that working with the city and with the residents, will be far more successful than continuing to push their agenda? Will Shellmont ever be able to live in harmony without the threat of such an ominous threat to this neighbourhood?
The temple could expand if it were just able to accept that it must follow the same rules as everyone else and restrict the location of its expansion to the first 110 metres and restrict the height to comply with city bylaws.
The International Buddhist Temple on Steveston Highway has expanded and managed to work within city guidelines and we encourage the Lingyen development team to visit that temple for inspiration as to how to work with the city.
We thank City of Richmond planning staff for their thorough report and their professionalism in dealing with such a difficult situation.