SURREY Developers are knocking on Surrey's door with plans to create a dizzying amount of growth over the next several years. The challenge for existing residents is to ensure that the growth is orderly and affordable.
"We are growing more than we ever could have expected," said Jason Vaagen, city auditor. "If it's done properly, it's not too much, but when we are having four and five plats come in a month, it gets to be overwhelming."
The Surrey City Council on Monday gave preliminary approval to residential and commercial development on 80 acres on the north side of town. The project now goes to the planning board for further review. The 80 acres are part of the proposed 600-acre Silver Springs development, which recently broke ground on an initial 80 acres previously approved by the city.
Heavy equipment is at work Monday to prepare ground for the proposed Silver Springs addition to Surrey.
On Tuesday, Surrey's planning board gave preliminary approval to a residential development with 396 housing units, which includes three apartment buildings. A public hearing will be held July 23 on the development, proposed by Thomas Holliday. Part of the property is in the city, and the developer is seeking to annex the remainder.
Also on July 23, another developer is expected to present the planning board with specifics for residential housing on 80 acres.
The council voted Monday not to draft a comprehensive plan at this time, even though the city believes a plan is necessary to guide growth. The problem is lack of money to cover the estimated $175,000 cost. The council intends to look for grants or other funding sources to complete a comprehensive plan, but it in the meantime, it is working through its zoning ordinances and developer agreements to try to keep growth organized, Vaagen said.
The city doesn't want to financially burden existing residents so is requiring developers to pay for infrastructure and other services, Vaagen said. The city has tacked $150 fees on its building permits for each the police department and parks. The proposed housing developments include additional park space, which would fall to the city's care.
Vaagen said the city is preparing to build another lagoon cell next spring. Additional cells will be built as part of a phased expansion project.
The city also is looking to ensure residential developers include commercial space where appropriate, such as where the property lies along major arterial streets.
Surrey Public School officials are looking ahead to a potential boom in enrollment. Voters approved a measure in June that would enable the district to bond for up to $6 million. However, voters rejected a related measure that would have enabled the district to increase its debt limit by $3 million. Without increasing the debt limit, the district can bond for only $3 million.
The school is considering a $6 million project that adds 11 classrooms and a commons area. Supt. Kevin Klassen said the school board will meet next Tuesday to discuss how to proceed and whether to bring the indebtedness question back before the voters this fall or next summer.
The proposed bond issue would increase the property tax by $300 to $350 a year for each $100,000 of home value. However, the amount would decrease over the 20 years of the bond as the city's tax base increases with the growth, Klassen said.
Based on more than 120 houses already going up in the community, Klassen estimates that the school will see 30 to 50 new students this fall. He said the school can handle that number, but further growth could force the use of portable classrooms until a permanent solution is obtained.