The long-debated commercial development proposed for Berkey’s Corner has finally been given the green light to proceed by the Municipality of North Cowichan.
But while the developer will be able to have a controversial restaurant drive-through on site, it will have to be at least 45 metres from any residences or residentially zoned properties, council decided on June 15.
The proposed development site lies southwest of the Berkey’s Corner roundabout, which is the intersection of Sherman, Somenos and Cowichan Lake roads.
The plan is to build a development anchored by a number of national chain stores, including a grocery and drug store, as well as a number of smaller, more local tenants.
But the residents of the surrounding neighbourhood expressed many concerns with the development since it was first proposed last year, including the plan for a drive-through.
The concerns raised revolved mostly around pedestrian safety and excessive car emissions.
Council rescinded third reading for the development on June 1 and asked the landowner if he would agree to a covenant that would prohibit a drive-through.
But the landowner declined, stating the drive-through was integral to the success of the development.
Council finally decided in a tight 4-3 vote to give the third and fourth (final) reading to the rezoning application after being informed by staff that the municipality can add having the drive-through’s minimum distance from residences as part of the requirements of the development permit.
Coun. Rob Douglas said before the vote that there’s a lot of opposition to the development for a variety of reasons other than the drive-through, and he would prefer to hold off on the approval process until a neighbourhood plan is developed for the area.
“I think the community and the property owner would see better results if we postponed this decision until after a neighbourhood plan is in place,” he said.
Coun. Maeve Maguire said the fact that the drive-through can still be part of the development is a “deal-breaker” for her.
“It’s still too close to residences, even at 45 metres,” she said. “I still think there shouldn’t be any drive -through there at all.”
Coun. Tom Walker said he would have had to have heard a lot more opposition to the development than just objections to a drive-through to turn it down.
“There’s not enough grounds to reject it,” he said.
“I think this development can make an important contribution to one of our most important neighbourhoods. It’s been ignored too long.”