Yard waste has been piled over three feet deep at the base of this Douglas fir near a gate in the fence of one of the houses on Cordero Crescent that backs on Willow Creek Nature Conservancy. Greenways Land Trust has requested the city stipulate no gates be allowed from yards into natural areas when approving future development. Photo courtesy Greenways Land Trust

Concerns raised over fencing between proposed Maryland subdivision and nature trust

Greenways wants a covenant included that would restrict gates from properties that back on nature

Residents in the Maryland Road area of Ocean Grove have been quite vocal about the way that area has been developing over the years, and council recently had a chance to hear more concerns surrounding another subdivision slated for that area.

The rezoning application for 600 Maryland Road, should it be successful, would see the area rezoned from an R-1 designation to RM-1, which, according to city planner Cameron Salisbury in his report to council recommending the rezoning be approved, “would encourage new development to consider densities and general character of the surrounding area and diversify housing choices.”

The proposed development would see a neighbourhood of patio homes constructed between the current Maryland Estates subdivision and the Willow Creek Nature Conservancy.

At the community meetings – required before any rezoning application can be brought to public hearing before council – concerns were raised about the increased density such a development would create in the area, with residents citing already existing water pressure and traffic issues. There were also concerns raised about the possibility of an apartment or condo complex being built should the rezoning application be approved.

The developer, Parkway Properties, has agreed to issue a covenant on the property restricting development to single-family patio homes only, council was told, to alleviate any concerns over the possible construction of an apartment or condo complex. Dan Samson of Parkway Properties also told council back in September he intends to alleviate some of the current traffic pressure in the area by installing a $1.5-million traffic light-controlled intersection at Jubilee Parkway and Willow Creek Road.

But at the public hearing Nov. 6, another concern was raised by Sandra Milligan, president of Greenways Land Trust.

Milligan was asking for “one important change” to the proposed plan.

Milligan raised concerns about the proposed development’s impact on the bordering nature conservancy. As the proposed development shares a 135m border with the trust, Greenways’ concern is how neighbourly the residents of the future development will be and Milligan was asking to ensure another covenant be placed on the development that would restrict access to the trust from individual residents’ back yards. Six houses on Cordero Crescent also back on the trust, and Milligan’s presentation showed photos of the fenceline between the subdivision and the natural area it backs.

“Every household along this strip has their own private access to the nature trust,” Milligan said. “And they are using it to the detriment of the nature trust.”

She pointed to photographs of unauthorized trail construction leading to those gates, as well as large piles of yard waste.

Illegal trails lead to habitat loss and unnatural slope erosion, Milligan says, and “illegal dumping of yard waste can lead to very expensive invasive plant infestations.” She also brought many more photographs of other natural areas of town that have private gate access from residential property that have similar issues cropping up.

So her request was for council to make continuous, ungated fencing a requirement of allowing the rezoning and “direct staff to consider the negative impacts of invasive species and unauthorized trail construction whenever subdivision plans include development adjacent to natural spaces.”

The rezoning application will now go to third reading, which could happen as early as next Monday, Nov. 20.

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