Mission City Record LogoTim Fitzgerald reported the following in the Mission Record on January 9, 2013.

Mission council has no appetite to change the Official Community Plan (OCP) to accommodate a development in Steelhead.

Located north of Mill Pond, the area is home to a small number of hobby farms and remote homes on acreages. Resident Dean Hodgson had hoped council would approve his request to redesignate 80 acres of property on Thomas Avenue and Cardinal Street to rural residential from its current rural zoning.

However, district staff and council agreed allowing changes to the OCP for the proposed development wasn’t in the district’s best interest.

Councillor Jenny Stevens said she sees red flags any time a change is made to the OCP.

“I think this is a great development, but at the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said.

Under its current zoning, any rural lots must be at least four acres. If Hodgson had been successful in amending the OCP, lot sizes would only need to be 1.73 acres, allowing for as many as 46 lots on the site.

Hodgson had originally sought to construct 65 lots on the parcel, however, after a public information meeting with Steelhead residents last September, he and his partner, Ryan Anderson, of OTG Development Concepts altered the plan to include only 31 lots with an average property size of 2.56 acres.

In a presentation to council Monday, Hodgson said the revised plan is more in keeping with the rural aspects of the district’s OCP than the rural residential aspect he sought.

Five of the 31 proposed properties would be under two acres, while 19 would range between two and three acres, and the remaining seven would be three acres or more.

Anderson said the development would include a number of benefits to the Steelhead community as well as to the district, such as high speed internet and cell phone service.

The development was expected to pump more than $23 million into the local economy, including, $85,000 in local amenities, about $415,000 in development cost charges, $130,000 in park fees. Anderson said $630,000 will go directly into the district’s coffers.

While the land in question is zoned rural, Anderson had hoped council would consider the proposed mix. He added they have taken into consideration the concerns of the local community and brought back what they thought was a fair compromise.

Council unanimously to turn down the application. Mayor Ted Adlem said he was disappointed the developers didn’t conduct an independent survey to get a feel for what residents thought about the project.

Anderson said they still intend to conduct the survey but since their original concepts have changed, they felt it was best to wait until details of the development were closer to being complete.

Christine Hart, a Steelhead resident, believes there is little desire to see this kind of development in Steelhead.

Residents cherish the solitude, she added.

“The people who live here choose to do so because it hasn’t been developed. It may only be 15 minutes away from Mission, but it feels like a world away,” she said.