Fort Langley’s Coulter Berry revamp enters re-match

The Coulter Berry building is back before Langley Township council again, as its developer seeks permission to re-start construction in Fort Langley.

At Monday night’s council meeting, the council voted seven to two in favour of approving first and second readings of rezoning bylaws, and of moving on to a public hearing.

The debate was watched by a sizeable crowd of both opponents and supporters in the audience, who braved heavy snow to attend.

The two councillors opposed to the plan, Bob Long and David Davis, both worried about the size and height of the three-storey structure.

The Coulter Berry project, proposed for the corner of Mavis Avenue and Glover Road, is to be three stories tall, and more than 47 feet at its tallest point. If built, it will have residential units on the top floor, offices on the second, and retail outlets on the ground floor.

“I have a problem with the height,” Davis said.

“To me, it pushes the limit a bit to far,” Long said of the proposed plan.

He made a motion to reduce the height of the building at the corner of Mavis and Glover – which might require reducing the height of the entire building, Long noted. The motion was defeated with only Long and Davis in favour.

Several other councillors spoke in favour of at least voting in favour now, and waiting to see what the public has to say at an upcoming public hearing.

“It needs to go further than this to have any proper debate,” said Coun. Grant Ward.

The building in question is a slightly modified version of a proposal that was already put before council, debated at a public hearing, approved, and which was then stalled in the courts.

The previous version of the Coulter Berry proposal was very similar – developer Eric Woodward has had some changes made to the facade, and the heights of some parapets have been reduced, but the building’s size is substantially the same – but was approved through a different process. The Township did not rezone the site, but used a Heritage Alteration Permit.

A group of Fort residents and business owners took the Township to court, and a B.C. Supreme Court judge agreed that a simple change to the permit was not enough to allow for the change in density represented by the building.

The developer is now applying for a rezoning.

During the council’s debate Monday, opponents of the project occasionally applauded Davis and Long. A sizeable number of people in Fort Langley are against the project, while the developer and those in favour of the project have also been organizing to show support as it moves through this second process.

At present, the site at one of the busiest corners in Fort Langley is a large excavation surrounded by wooden hoardings.

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