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Townhouse project gets green light

... Despite neighbourhood's vehement protests against it

A controversial proposal to build 18 threestorey townhouses has passed a public hearing hurdle - despite most of the neighbourhood being against it.

The majority of public speakers at city hall Monday night protested against the development at No. 2 and Maple roads.

However, city councillors voted 6-2 in favour of the project, which has attracted two petitions of disapproval, one garnering almost 500 signatures.

Local residents had bombarded city hall with fears, including the loss of neighbourhood character; too much density; buildings too high and increased danger from more traffic.

But, after the developer - Western Maple Lane Holdings - made significant changes to its proposal, those fears were all considered and subsequently dismissed by city staff in their report to council.

According to staff, the proposal does, despite the protestations, fit in with Richmond's official community plan, which provides for multi-family dwellings on arterial roads, such as No. 2 Road.

Chair of the city's planning committee, Coun. Bill McNulty, said he hadn't made up his mind which way to vote until the last minute.

"I was leaning towards voting against it, but the modifications that were made changed my mind, including the movement of the entrance from Maple Road to No. 2 Road," McNulty said.

"It was a difficult decision. But the alternative of single-family homes with coach houses and duplexes would not have enhanced the neighbourhood.

"If single-family houses were built, the ground would have to be raised even higher than it would be for these townhouses. The developer has also made considerable concessions."

McNulty said the developer agreeing to lower the building height and paying for a four-way traffic signal at the intersection helped sway him towards approving the project.

"I honestly think it's the best decision for the area, considering what could have been built," he added.

"Unlike what some people think, I don't believe either

The proposal will now go before the next full meeting of city council, where it's expected to be approved.