By Amy Fendley
A proposal for an employee and market housing development at Nesters Hill drew opposition from some Nesters Road residents at a public hearing Monday.
The application by Sea to Sky Holding proposes a subdivision of 27 new market single family lots and the construction of 58 affordable resident housing units contained within two apartment-style buildings behind Nesters Road.
The employee apartment buildings are proposed for the low-land portion of the site. One building would be two storeys and the more northerly building, located on the lower portion of the site, would be three storeys. The project also requires 82 parking stalls.
The single family lot component of the project proposes to utilize surplus bed units bought from the Crown and transferred from an adjacent site.
The development site is situated behind the lots located on the northwest side of Nesters Road. The surrounding area consists of single family dwellings on Nesters Road, the Nesters Market area, Nesters Hill and Nesters Pond.
There are also two proposed parkland dedication areas, totalling 4.12 hectares. One sits between the employee housing site and Nesters Pond and would protect a wetland area. The other, a .27 hectare parcel, would permit a buffer zone behind the Haus Heidi Pension.
Some neighbours were upset that one of the only two parkland areas within the development is situated behind the pension, owned by Jim and Trudy Greutzke, who are also the owners of Sea to Sky Holdings.
"I find it extremely disturbing that the only substantial green space is situated right behind Haus Heidi," said Nesters Road resident, Henry Spencer. "If they sell, they’ll walk away with $5 million. This project is going to have a serious impact on the financial value of our house and our quality of life. This development is going to happen, no matter what. The best I can hope for is a reduction (in the size of the development proposal). It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get done, it matters that it gets done correctly."
A letter of opposition submitted to the municipality by Linda Warren Burhenna, a neighbouring Nesters Road property owner, states: "All of the residents’ property lying adjacent to the development will be adversely affected by it. If it is the intention to isolate such a buffer zone to the Haus Heidi facility, we regard this as inappropriate favouritism."
There is a separate rezoning application from the owners of Nesters Square, which proposes to add additional commercial space and employee housing to the rear of the existing Nesters Square commercial building.
"This is the only opportunity the public has to influence the project, and it’s more of a formality than an opportunity to make any influences on the project," stated Spencer. "It’s a classic example of the silent majority that’s out there. There are two strips of houses on either side of the road, but it’s a neighbourhood nonetheless. For the minimal number of people who come here and get a cheap vacation, I think it’s a bad idea."
The access road to the site is off of Nesters Road, across from the Dandelion Daycare. Between the access road and the first house on Nesters Road is a buffer area, approximately 18 metres in width. Within the buffer area, a Valley Trail extension is to be constructed that will run past the proposed conservation area, through the employee site, to connect with the Nesters Square commercial area. The trail is also proposed to be extended along Nesters Road to connect with the existing Valley Trail on Lorimer Road.
Concerns were raised about the visual impact of the project, about the intrusion of privacy — having the Valley Trail illuminated and directly behind the homes of Nesters Road residents — and about traffic.
"They say that the visual impact of this is going to be minimal," said Spencer. "If you’re on top of a mountain, yes, otherwise it’s about as close as you get to us here. There will be a lot of people packed down into that little area, which means increased traffic."
Nesters Road residents Kimberly McKnight, Anne Sarich and Tammy Bexton also spoke against the project and its impact on the neighbourhood. Jacquie O’Donnell, also a Nesters Road resident, spoke in favour of the project.
Ed Zinkevich, an Alpine Meadows resident, said the whole public hearing process is undemocratic.
"They will not reduce the density in Whistler, and they will not reduce the project, but let us not build another Surrey in Whistler. That’s what the community wants, and it’s a small community, we all cross each other’s paths."
The municipality will conduct reviews of the historical significance of each site, and establish priorities for their management. The Nesters Hill area is noted as an area having natural history. The Nesters Pond area, where the Public Works building is now situated, and the Mons area were used for horse and steam logging camp bases in the 1950s and ’60s.
The project will be on council’s agenda at its May 17 meeting, where third reading will be considered.