Linc Dance was the first of a group of residents who oppose a machinery business from expanding in their area. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Rural Langley residents irked at heavy equipment expansion plans

Neighbours of Leavitt Machinery asked council to turn down a plan to expand closer to their homes.

Neighbours from a tight-knit rural Langley community came to Township council Monday to oppose plans to expand a heavy equipment facility near their homes.

Leavitt Machinery has operated a sales and serving centre at the corner of 244th Street and Fraser Highway for several years, selling and renting equipment such as boom lifts and cranes. Before Leavitt took over the property, it had been a lumberyard going back decades.

The surrounding area is acreages and hobby farms.

The residents of those properties are worried that Leavitt’s plans to expand and revamp the facility will result in more noise, light pollution, and possibly contamination of the aquifer they rely on for wells.

“This evening I wish to speak to your hearts,” said Linc Dance, who was born and raised in the area, and returned a few years ago to raise his children.

He reminded councillors of past statements they’ve made about appropriate development, listening to residents, and protecting the natural environment.

Monica Zoerb said the plans for Leavitt’s site don’t fit with the rural nature of the area. She also called for a sound barrier, including trees.

Sound was a concern of several speakers at the hearing. When heavy equipment backs up, just like large trucks they make a loud beeping sound to warn anyone around.

Residents spoke of the sounds starting sometimes at 6 a.m. as equipment is offloaded near 244th Street, and continuing through the day. They fear the noises will be louder and closer if the project is approved.

Nearby streams and ponds aren’t just local, said Louisa Nicholls. She said one pond system is the headwaters for the Nicomekl River, which runs west through Langley to join the Serpentine River in Surrey. Another creek flows in the Salmon River.

Leavitt’s plans include expanding onto a property to the north of their current site, closer to homes.

Speaking for the developer, Christopher Correia of the Pacific Land Group said that the expansion comes with major changes in the site’s use.

“The focus of the site will be head office, with some training,” Correia said.

Councillors questioned him on how much of the training would be indoors, and he admitted about 50 per cent would be held outside on the asphalt.

He said new lighting would be installed to ensure there is no spillover onto neighbouring lots, and that hedges will be retained and more trees planted along property lines.

Oil and water interceptors will be in place to catch any spills or leaks from machinery, Correia said.

It will be September before there is any resolution to the matter. Following Monday’s public hearing, council will be taking its summer break through August. A third reading on the rezoning required for Leavitt’s plan will likely be held then.