A proposal to fill in a former racetrack on a Langley farm has failed to win support from Langley Township council.
But in rejecting All Seasons Mushrooms farm owner Frank Moscone’s application to apply more than 54,000 cubic metres or more than 7,000 truck loads of fill to the horse oval on his property at 3468 224 Street, council left the door open for a modified proposal.
Moscone wants to apply the fill inside the racetrack oval to grow hay.
The idea is opposed by several area residents, some of who spoke at a public hearing to express concern about truck traffic and possible harm to the environment.
Among them was Patrick Niwa, who had concerns about runoff, pollution, damage and the effect on property values and Mei Lin Yeoell, who said a nearby berry farm was able to operate without fill.
A number of residents also wrote the Township to urge rejection, including Susan Olsen, who said approving the fill request would be a “disaster” because it will send more large trucks rumbling through the neighbourhood.
“I cannot imagine the threat to the environment and the groundwater,” Olsen wrote.
Moscone said he simply wants to use his farmland as farmland and the fill will make the site useable agricultural land.
“Nothing more is intended,” Moscone said.
“I don’t believe we’re doing anything bad,” he added.
Councillor David Davis, also a farmer, was skeptical.
“You can farm that without putting anything on there,” Davis said.
“I urge you to reject if you feel so uncomfortable,” Moscone replied.
When it came to a vote on Feb. 3, council did just that, rejecting the proposal and suggesting Moscone adjust his plans to reduce the amount of fill.
“They need to go back to the drawing board,” Councillor Charlie Fox said, adding “this council isn’t going to accept anything close to 7,000 [truck] loads.”
Councillor Michelle Sparrow said she would like to see the former horse track become “farmable land again, but not with so much fill.”
Councilor Bev Dornan defended the applicant, saying “I think Mr. Moscone is a reputable businessman in this community and he has nothing but the best interests of the farming community.”
So did Councillor Grant Ward, who said the application was an attempt to fix an “eyesore” in the the form of the track.
“We ought to be advocating for our community members, not throwing stumbling blocks at them,” Ward said.
Instead of rejecting the proposal outright, Sparrow convinced a majority of council to send the application back to Township staff to see if they can negotiate a reduced amount of fill with Moscone.