Coles Road annexation approved

In less than three weeks, the Langley City Council could give the final nod that would annex 40 acres of property on Coles Road into the city of Langley.

At a Langley City Council meeting Wednesday, councilmembers unanimously approved the annexation and passed the first reading of an annexation ordinance. The second reading, which could put the ordinance into effect, is slated for the next city council meeting in 2005 on Jan. 5.

During the meeting, a public hearing was held on the issue and the applicants and the public were invited to discuss the annexation.

Bob Libolt, a partner of the Pacific Crest Partners — the firm that plans to purchase the property after it is annexed — said the design of the development has changed since he first approached the idea of the annexation in 2003. He said his group is committed to preserving the rural character of Coles Road, and has no intention of clearing the entire 40 acres of property.

“It’s quite different than we imagined,” said Libolt. “We’re certainly committed to the preservation of trees.”

During the meeting, Langley resident Eric Levine expressed his concern the development would set a precedent for other developers wanting to come to Langley to propose similar communities, and would give future developers the appearance of an easy approval.

“It looks like a suburban subdivision to me,” Levine said.

Council member Robert Gilman said the council’s approval of the annexation would not set a precedent of approval for future projects, and approval of the current annexation and development scope had not come without a lot of work from the city and the developers.

“It’s a little harder than that,” Gilman said. “There is the hope that this can be developed in a way that is community enhancing.”

Another Langley resident, Malcolm Ferrier, told council members and the developers of his desire to keep the Coles Road development as environmentally friendly as possible.

“We really want this development to be a shining jewel in the town of Langley,” Ferrier said.

Council member Faith Bushby acknowledged Ferrier’s comments and agreed that achieving an environmentally conscious development was an important aspect for the future of Langley for many people.

“I definitely appreciate your point-of-view and am standing right beside you,” Bushby said.

Mayor Neil Colburn also agreed, and said no one was looking to live in a suburbia in Langley. He said the council would remain faithful to their commitment to develop Langley in a sensitive and open process.

“You know what our intent is,” Colburn said. “We share the same values and the same concerns.”

On Thursday, Colburn said he felt positive about the annexation, despite calling it a tortuous process for both city council, staff and the developers. The changes made to downscale the development over the past year and a half and the preservation of trees and open space made the annexation and proposed development a positive project for the city of Langley.

Colburn said the annexation process was a community building process that sparked additional community engagement and had been a starting point for the Langley Community Forum.

He also reiterated how valuable the developers dedication of 16 acres to the city will become for the city. The entire 12 acres on the west side of Coles Road will provide Langley will a buffer in perpetuity.

Jeff Johnson, one of the two Pacific Crest Partners present at the meeting, said Thursday they looked forward to continuing working with the city of Langley and Langley residents.

“We’re satisfied with the process and feel like we have a good development plan,” he said.

Johnson said his company has an agreement with the property’s current owner, Gordon Iverson, to purchase the property at the time the preliminary plat is approved.

He said he and his partners plan to submit a preliminary plat application within the next two months. Once the preliminary plat application is submitted, Johnson said he and his partners will continue to an open and responsive relationship with the city and it’s residents. More public hearings required in the plat application process will also allow for more public comments, questions and feedback.

In the annexation agreement, several conditional items are listed for the developers for future development. Included in the list is a limit of 24 single-family homes, a requirement for approximately 30 acres of open space, construction of walking trails and a trailhead, specific buffers for neighboring properties and Coles Road and approval of design guidelines for future homes, landscaping and tree and vegetation retention.

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