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Tree lawsuit could halt West Vancouver rental project

The development permit should not have been granted, court documents state.

The District of West Vancouver is facing a legal challenge that could see a new rental building’s development permit quashed.

In March 2023, council voted to rezone the land belonging to Park Royal’s parent company Larco at Taylor Way and Clyde Avenue to allow 201 rental apartments in a six-storey building.

But William and Sandra Chapman, the neighbours to the north, have filed a court petition saying the development permit should be thrown out because it violates several district bylaws.

At issue in the case are five mature trees at or near the Chapman’s property line.

Before the original development permit was granted, the proponents had an arborist’s report stating that the excavation for the project would destroy the structural root zones of four trees on the Chapman property, the petition asserts. They did not receive a copy of that report until May of 2023, however.

The original development permit granted by the district specified the work was to be done as “necessary to protect existing trees … on adjacent … sites,” the court documents state.

The Chapmans raised the issue with the district in October 2023, and in December staff approved an amendment to the permit based on a new arborist’s report that indicated the parkade’s excavation was within the protection zone of three of the Chapmans’ trees “contrary to the tree bylaw.”

It was unreasonable for the district to grant the amendment, the Chapmans argue, because it ignores the excavation within the critical root zone of the trees, it ignores the district’s own tree bylaw and it ignores the requirements in council’s development procedures bylaw.

That amended permit was granted without the district providing statutory notice, as the district’s bylaws require, they argue.

“Had notice been given, the petitioners would have raised concerns regarding the excavation and shoring work within the critical root zone of their trees. In the result, they were denied their statutory right to notice and right to be heard before council,” the court documents state.

In an affidavit filed with the petition, Sandra Chapman notes the trees are all that stand between them and their future neighbours having unobstructed views into each other’s homes.

“Change and progress is eventual in the world we live in, however it is stressful to me that Park Royal tried, without disclosure to or consent from us, to damage or remove trees on our property. These trees are integral to our privacy and therefor to the use and enjoyment of our home.”

In their petition, the Chapmans are seeking an order quashing the municipality’s decision to grant the development permit and sending the matter back to council for reconsideration.

The district has not yet filed a response to the petition and the claims have not been heard in court.

In response to a request for comment, a district spokesperson issued a statement.

“The district is aware of the proceeding and intends to file a response in due course,” it read.

Park Royal's management declined to comment on the story.

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