Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sprawling under the radar in Langley

When people think of sprawl, the image of acres of farmland being destroyed to accommodate massive housing development projects likely comes to mind. While Langley has certainly seen projects like this, there is another form of sprawl happening in Langley that is insidious and just as destructive.

Areas around most of the urban edge of the Township of Langley are zoned RU-1. This zoning allows for up to two dwellings per lot. Allowing two dwellings per lot on a farm within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) makes sense as it supports farming, but allowing this on rural land outside of the ALR is a different story.

As I posted about earlier this summer, some people are creating two strata lots out of one fee-simple lot in rural Langley outside of the ALR. This essentially allows people to get away with subdividing a lot, without actually subdividing a lot. This tactic would not be allowed within the ALR.

The end result of this process is the creations of insidious sprawl, and the conversion of rural areas into suburban areas. One option Township of Langley Council could take is to examine if two dwellings on rural lots outside of the ALR should be removed from the current zoning bylaws.

Unfortunately, Township Council has decided to go in the opposite direction in some parts of Langley; they formally allow subdivisions.

For example, Township Council approved the following change to their Rural Plan in April 2014.

“Subdivision in the area immediately adjacent to the eastern boundary of Walnut Grove, south of 88 Avenue and not located in the ALR may be permitted, provided the current permitted density of two dwelling units per fee simple lot is maintained. Rezoning of properties in the area shall be considered provided:

The proposed zoning allows only two lots for each existing fee simple lot and only one single family dwelling per lot;
The lot is serviced by municipal water and sanitary sewer services; and
Access to lots fronting 216 Street and 88 Avenue is provided by new roads connecting to 217A Street or 86A Avenue.”

Not surprisingly, some landowners in the area are taking advantage of this new provision. The most recent example was presented two days ago at a Council meeting.

Area where the Township of Langley's Rural Plan allows subdivision at the border of Walnut Grove. Section image to enlarge.

While this is just one small suburban incursion into rural Langley, this is one of many other small incursions into rural Langley. While it might not cause the same controversy, or a quick change in the landscape, the end result is the same. Areas of rural Langley which are not protected by the Agricultural Land Commission, are being slowly turning into suburban sprawl.

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