Trustees have forwarded a development plan for Phase Two of the Madrona Market on North Road to the Advisory Planning Commission for feedback on whether the proposed plan meets Village centre Development Permit Area (DPA) requirements.
Speaking to her staff report at the Thursday Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting at the WI Hall, Planner Chloe Fox said the new proposed development lies to the west of Phase One, which has already been built. She said the development falls under “DPA 7” in the Official Community Plan, and must meet guidelines for “form and character”.
The applicants will build a 7,300 square foot complex over two storeys, Fox said, and public walkways are provided on North Road and to the parking lot. She said landscaped and open space areas will be left in their natural state and drought tolerant plants will be used for landscaping. Parking will be behind the mall away from North Road, and will include bicycle parking, Fox said.
She said the proposed development “appears to meet the requirements” of the zoning and the DPA guidelines. She recommended that staff be instructed to issue a permit for the development.
Asked where they plan to run the trail for the new mall, applicant Chris Hock said plans for a trail for the first phase of their development had not worked out “because by the time we met all the requirements with the setbacks and the parking we couldn’t fit it on our property”, without having to remove some trees. He said some of the trees straddle the road allowance and their property.
Hock said in the past the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure would not allow them to wind a path through the trees. He said the possibility of building a boardwalk-style path now looks more promising.
Trustee Gisele Rudischer asked about a plan on the Madrona website that shows that a third phase of development behind Arbutus Building Supplies will be built in the greenspace outlined on the current application. Hock said they are not planning on developing that phase “at this point”. Rudischer said she would prefer that the potential development be included in the application. She said calling it greenspace was misleading. Hock said they didn’t know where the new building might be built, so they couldn’t locate it on the plan. He agreed that the greenspace isn’t meant to be greenspace forever.
Rudischer said additional landscaping proposed between the two properties should be marked on the plan in order to ensure it happens. She also said a landscaped area between the Phase Two parking lot and the potential phase three development area should be delineated.
Rudischer said that there was nothing in the plan showing a walkway behind the mall. Hock said they cannot install a walkway leading into someone else’s private property. Rudischer said if it isn’t included in the plan there is no way to make it happen, but if it is, even if the walkway is not constructed, it puts pressure on other landowners “to hook the rest of that trail up”. She said that is how they are doing it with other subdivisions on Gabriola. She said she was looking for a more public walkway, “not just an access to the businesses in the development”.
Trustee Sheila Malcolmson said that connectivity of walkways is not required by the DPA. She said this might be something they want to institute as a guideline for future development.
Rudischer also noted that the existing trees are not marked on the plans. She said without those trees marked on the plan there is no way to prove the trees were there if they are removed in the future.
Malcolmson said that the plan says that any trees that are removed will be replaced. She asked for a mechanism to show the baseline of the trees that exist there now.
Rudischer also said public space provided along the roadway would not be very usable. She said Gabriolans want public space within developments where a number of people can sit. She said if the developers wanted their mall to be a centre for the community “you might want to consider providing some sort of public space that would encourage that”.
Malcolmson noted that the DPA requirements say that both walkways and outdoor open spaces for use by the public are required. She wasn’t sure the public space requirement was met in the application. “The greenspace that we approved in Phase One didn’t end up being open public space”, she added, although they did discuss whether it was appropriate to use the septic field for open public space. Hock said the area is fenced off as a requirement of their liquor license but it is used extensively, especially by children. He said it is protected from the road, which is why parents love it for their kids.
Malcolmson said that area is not really public space. She said it looks more like an extension of the patio, that is available for customer use. She said it was “beautifully used” by customers, “but I’m not sure that anybody else would use that”. She said that was she was not certain that there was anything on the Phase Two proposal “that looks like outdoor open space for use by the public”. Hock said there was space available along the front that was “easy access and very public”.
Noting that the mall does not require the same public process as does a rezoning, Malcolmson also said that Gabriolans were concerned during the application for Phase One that the development was done with minimal community input. She said she would like to refer the application to the Advisory Planning Commission to consider whether the plan has met the DPA guidelines.
This has been done with other commercial developments, Malcolmson said and a number of improvements in the building sites resulted from the process. Hock said according to permit process information “public input is not an element in the decision-making process for a development permit”. He said the application either meets the requirements or not.
LTC Chair David Graham said the Committee is looking for confirmation that the application has met the requirements. Malcolmson said although the application was “not a popularity contest … there is no reason in the world why we can’t ask for more advice before deciding to issue the permit. It often takes more than one meeting to do that”. She said not only is this the smartest route to take but it builds more support for the development in the long run.
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