500-townhouse proposal for Falcon Ridge area

A proposal to build up to 555 townhouses in the area known as Falcon Ridge on Sumas Mountain will move to public hearing after receiving first and second reading from council on Monday.

The site was previously rezoned with the intent of developing mainly single family homes. The site now requires rezoning to a new comprehensive development zone to allow for the townhouse project.

An original proposal, dating back to 1999, was put forward by Columbia National Investments Ltd. (CNI), but the project never went ahead.

A report on the new plan from city staff says before the lots could be released for building permits, the original owner of the land encountered financial difficulties, resulting in a mortgage holder taking control of the lands.

The current report cites CNI – directors Steve and Herb Dunton – as the owning company, and power of attorney is held by Romspen Mortgage Corp.

The properties are on the north side of Lower Sumas Mountain Road. To the west of the site is Vicarro Ranch – the largest development proposal in Abbotsford in over a decade – covering about 383 acres in the McKee Peak Mountain and Eagle Mountain Area, which would see the construction of about 1,400 residential units.

That project has received third reading, and is awaiting final approval due to a number of rezoning conditions that must be resolved before the bylaws may be adopted.

Couns. Patricia Ross and Henry Braun both expressed concerns on Monday about the current proposal.

Braun said his overarching concern for the development is the safety for the “1,000-plus” people who could live in the 555 units, which would be built on what the report describes as “steep rocky terrain.” He said he would support the proposal going to public hearing, but “I think there are a number of issues this council needs to wrestle with.”

A proposal to build 51 townhouses units on Estevan Court, just south of the current proposal’s border, was rejected by council in February after concerns were raised about slope stability. At that time, Coun. John Smith said that while townhouses were probably safer than single-family homes, the site should never have been zoned for development.

The proposal for Falcon Ridge has undergone geotechnical site assessments and other environmental studies.

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