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Saturday, September 30, 2023
Sept. 30, 2023

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Vancouver weighs easing development agreement

Property owner says use restrictions hurt parcel’s potential

By , Columbian politics reporter

A local developer might finally make headway with his request to rescind a decade-old development agreement in east Vancouver.

Asghar Sadri asked the city to remove the agreement — or at least the use restrictions — because it’s restricting his ability to develop a parcel of land on Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard near Hearthwood Boulevard.

The Vancouver Planning Commission recommended the agreement stay intact, especially the use restrictions which prohibit drive-thru businesses, 24-hour services, gas stations, self-serve storage businesses and car washes.

The Vancouver City Council first considered Sadri’s request and the planning commission’s recommendation in July. The council didn’t indicate it would go against the commission’s reasoning but used the issue to spark a larger policy discussion about planning for the future.

At Monday’s meeting, however, much of the council indicated it may favor honoring Sadri’s request — at least to some extent.

The council was open to the idea of renegotiating the development agreement to remove some of the land-use restrictions.

“It feels as though we’re putting additional restrictions on one parcel where we didn’t put restrictions on parcels that are similar,” said Councilor Alishia Topper. “It almost feels like we are a day late and a dollar short if we really want to drive that corridor.”

Topper added that it seems the development agreement is disproportionately impacting Sadri’s parcel of land.

Councilor Bart Hansen said that the agreement in place is now managing via exception.

“I look at some of the properties nearby and I think we’re being a little bit overreaching,” Hansen said. “I would like a happy medium to be met.”

Councilors Linda Glover and Laurie Lebowsky said they go back-and-forth on the issue, but they are concerned with fairness.

As Councilor Ty Stober alluded to, the use the council takes most issue with is self-storage. Sadri applied to build storage facilities on the site despite the specified prohibition in 2017. The issue with self-storage is it creates few jobs compared with the amount of land it consumes.

“I think that the issue is we are lacking a subarea plan here,” Stober said.

The council didn’t ultimately provide direction to staff to consider a subarea plan, but instead asked a draft recommendation be drawn up that removes some use restrictions. A revised agreement will consider compatibility issues with adjacent neighborhoods and passive land-use exclusions. Passive in this context means low employment or low activity, such as a storage facility.

Staff will bring back a compromise proposal at a future council meeting for consideration.

Columbian politics reporter