Patrick Murphy plans to make his Hunters Hill development an exceptional place to live.
“It’s pretty special land. We could develop across the whole property but then that would change the whole feel,” said Murphy.
Murphy has designed the development in northern Summerland for 68 single family homes using a cluster design plan to maximize the land left undeveloped.
“Right out of the gate we brought in environmental consultants,” said Murphy. “They started telling us right away that there are some very legitimate environmental values on our property, which, I mean, any dummy could see.”
Murphy said the real turning point came when a biologist “very tentatively” asked if he would consider preserving in such a way that there’s good connectivity between different environmental habitats.
“That totally makes sense because now they’re not isolated. They are all connected and it works really, really well for the preservation,” said Murphy.
“There’s a beautiful big bluff that’s connected to a talus slope that’s connected to some open grasslands that tie in with the Aspen wetland and carries on through to the forest.”
Murphy said they approached council with their plans, which include turning the open land over to the district.
“It seems like a pretty good win-win for everybody and certainly council of the day agreed,” said Murphy, adding that they could have developed all the land, but that wasn’t ever in their plans, with some areas having obvious environmental value.
“It’s a matter of degrees. For example, there’s an area that is called an Aspen wetland. Anybody would look at that and say we’re not going to pave that over no matter what,” said Murphy. “It’s quite apparent that it’s worth not ruining. Things like that started to come into play.”
Murphy said they worked closely with District of Summerland staff and environmental experts to work out their clustering plan for the developable lots.
“By clustering, you’ll get a smaller overall footprint and you keep development away from large tracts of open space that will be left alone,” said Murphy. And we still have really large lots. It’s a big property.”
The open land, over 80 acres, will be dedicated to Summerland but it will be more in the nature of a habitat preserve than a park.
“It’s not going to be a land where you’ll see improved trails and garbage cans and signage or soccer fields or anything like that. The intention really is to be left natural,” he said.
Murphy, who grew up in Summerland, moved away and then returned to raise his own family, said they’ve been conducting some pre-sales in advance of the Feb. 10 official opening to give locals first crack.
“We’ve done that and we’ve had very good success. And now it’s time to open it up and hopefully get shovels in the ground pretty quick here after we have our official opening,” said Murphy.
The preserve aspect only comes to the borders of the lots, though. Murphy said owners will be able to design their landscaping as they choose — lot owners aren’t going to be faced with a covenant to protect a tree on their lot.
“We have designed our lots to work around the natural terrain and we’ve given up some of our best view sites because there are some bird nesting trees there. We’ve adjusted lot lines to avoid any of those valued trees,” said Murphy. “We’ve been working hard on it and we want it to be a great project. We want it to be environmentally sensitive but we want to create some housing in this little town too.”