Fort Langley residents and businesses are being held for ransom.
I cannot believe what I found in my mail this week: an envelope emblazoned with large letters, â€œIf you love Fort Langley as much as we do, you should read this (re: Coulter Berry).â€
I will admit I was curious. Imagine my surprise that it was directly from the owner of Coulter Berry development, Mr. Eric Woodward.
It outlined much of what Iâ€™d heard before, from his perspective, but then my eyes hit the main point: â€œUnfortunately, the stakes are now much higher than the approval of a single building. As a village, we now face the possibility of the Coulter Berry site remaining as it is today for many years, regardless of councilâ€™s first approval, an appeal, or widespread community support. If those opposed to Coulter Berry 2.0 succeed, or delay a re-approval until next year, the Coulter Berry project will financially collapse. A resolution to that could take years. With a half-acre hole already excavatedâ€¦â€
Are you kidding me? As a developer who already owned many other properties in the downtown core, Mr. Woodward knew the bylaws about building height within a heritage conservation area before he bought this property.
He gambled that he could get huge variances to allow his 44,000-square-foot three-storey building built right up to almost the property lines and sidewalks.
He almost did get those variances, until council was told by a BC Supreme Court judge that they did not have legal right to allow such a large increase in density, and all work was legally stopped.
So now the developer comes to my neighbours, my friends, all of Fort Langley, and me, and basically threatens that we either support him or that eyesore of a hole he dug will stay as it is â€œfor many years.â€
Letâ€™s not forget that he knew the lawsuit was launched July 05, 2013, a month and a half before his ground-breaking ceremony on Aug. 20, gambling again that he could get this through somehow.
And now he dares to say that, if I love Fort Langley as much as he does, Iâ€™ll support the construction of his giant building?
He further writes that he â€œsincerely believe[s] Fort Langley is special,â€ and yet he wants to completely change forever the very core of the downtown area, with a building so large that it would dwarf any building in the area around it and completely overwhelm the many one-storey buildings along Glover Road that give Fort Langley that sought-after small-town historic charm.
Given he now owns many of those buildings, I can imagine how long those would last if gets to make his special Fort Langley into what he thinks it should be.
I am completely shocked at the audacity to tell me that I have to support him if I love Fort Langley as much as he does.
George Otty, Fort Langley