Site plan for proposed container nursery in South Surrey. (City of Surrey graphic)

South Surrey nursery application referred back to staff

City staff had recommended council decline rezoning request

An application to rezone a plot of agricultural land in South Surrey to permit the storage of machinery and operation of a container nursery has been referred back to staff.

At the June 25 land-use meeting, Surrey council voted to have staff ensure the application complies with the Agricultural Land Act and determine if the container nursery complies with existing zoning.

City staff had recommended council decline the request, noting in a report that a landscape business was currently operating on the 3905 152 St. site without authorization. The report also states that the rezoning request followed bylaw enforcement action that was taken by the city due to the lack of a business licence.

Applicant Tim Ferguson told council at the June 25 meeting that there is no intention to run a landscape contracting business out of the property, “only to store a few items that we use.”

The container nursery would be “a vertical integration to our business,” he said.

“Our office would never be there for our contracting business.”

In the report, staff note the proposed non-farm use does not align with the city’s existing policies and is not supported by the agricultural & food security advisory committee. As well, that approving it would set a precedent for similar non-farm-use proposals in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

According to the report, the site is currently home to a rented single-family dwelling and an accessory building, and a portion of the site is currently producing hay. The five-acre property is surrounded by agricultural land, with active farms to the north, south and east.

The applicants’ plan, between this year and 2022, is to develop a container nursery on 2.7 acres of the property, to grow plants for the landscaping company, the report states.

A city inspection last September found that current fill exceeds two per cent of the total site area allowed. It was placed around the accessory building in order to park landscaping trucks and equipment, the report notes.

Staff told council there is no record of a fill-permit application for the site, and that an investigation is underway regarding that “to make sure that what they are proposing in the future will meet our bylaws.”

Council also heard that an application to allow eight per cent fill has been submitted to the Agricultural Land Commission.

City planner Ron Hintsche told Peace Arch News last week that staff “have yet to have futher discussions with the applicant before this project can go back to council.”

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