Here is the text of the Mayor's letter to Bill Chadwick (scroll to earlier posting) which was also copied to all Newmarket councillors

"Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.  I have asked staff to review the contents of your e-mail and I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Let me begin by saying that I am reminded the rights, responsibilities and obligations of all parties (including council, staff, the proponent, residents and the Ontario Municipal Board, as well as due process) are prescribed in the Planning Act. Additionally, the professional recommendations Council receives are based on the planning merits of applications under consideration as they relate to the provisions of the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaws adopted after extensive community consultation.

The following is staff’s response to the points you have raised.

Please be assured that the Town will not ignore zoning or any of the planning documents.  As you may be aware, the Slessor application is for a zoning by-law amendment.  Section 4.4.3 of the  Town’s Official Plan provides for the consideration of development that exceeds the density provisions of the Official Plan (Table 1) through the  zoning by-law amendment process, subject to the provision of appropriate studies and the Town’s analysis of conformity with the applicable planning documents.

Town staff has been undertaking this analysis as reported on November 19, 2012, and there are still a number of issues under review by staff, including transportation impacts, height and density.

Once staff has completed its professional assessment of these remaining outstanding issues, staff will prepare a report for consideration  by Committee of the Whole of Council on February 4, 2013.  At this time, you as well as other members of the community will be afforded an opportunity to address Committee before it takes a position on the application.

Based on all the information before it, Council will ultimately take a position that it feels represents conformity with the applicable planning documents and the collective public interest. 

With respect to your request to be a party to any future negotiations with the applicant, I suggest that you make that request formally to our legal counsel Ms Armchuk-Ball and Mr. Kagan on behalf of Dwight Slessor Holdings. 

Thank you for your continued interest.

Tony Van Bynen

Mayor

Town of Newmarket

 

Here is the text of an e mail sent to supporters earlier this week. If you share our concerns, come to our meeting next Wednesday...
 
Hi there
 
We are neighbours.
 
Many of you signed a petition earlier this year against the Slessor Square development, and we are now inviting you and others who share our concern to a crucial meeting in Newmarket Library's multi purpose room on Wednesday 12 December from 7pm - 9pm.  
 
After endless months of negotiation between Town and developer, things are now coming to the boil.
 
The Slessors are keen to press ahead with their gigantic twin towers on the Slessor site but they know there is vocal opposition. 
 
So now, at the eleventh hour, they are proposing an alternative, which is just as oversized as their original proposal, in the hope of getting the Town to agree.
 
Details of this so called "settlement option" can be found here in the planning applications page on the Town website. Scroll to 17645 Yonge Street (Dwight Slessor Holdings Ltd.) Go to “Without Prejudice” documents and open “Slessor Conceptual Design Package (November 2012)”.
 
The Slessors have now gone to the Ontario Municipal Board, by-passing our local council, hoping they can force their massive development through.
 
Fortunately, the OMB has given Shrink Slessor Square (SSS) "party status" and we can speak out on behalf of residents. 
 
But we need your backing or the OMB will not take our voices seriously.
 
For a modest membership contribution of $1 you can be part of the SSS residents' group. You can vote on key decisions, stand for election to our Board if you wish, and help shape the future of our neighbourhood and Town.
 
As a non profit organisation of residents, we are seeking "incorporation" to be able to demonstrate our solidarity to the OMB. If we stay silent, the developers win.
  
We know there are fears this could lead to expensive fees to hire lawyers. But we have absolutely no plans to hire lawyers, and, in any event, the OMB makes it clear that lawyer representation is not essential.
 
We are also proceeding on the basis of advice from other active residents groups with experience in OMB dealings (including Glenway and the recent mega-quarry victory). 
 
Closer to home, perhaps you know people with legal or technical skills that would help us strengthen our case.
 
Feel free to forward this e mail to friends, neighbours and acquaintances who may share your concerns about this monster project. Our group is open and welcoming, so please spread the word.
 
It’s time for all of us to unite to shrink Slessor Square.
 
Let us know if you are thinking of coming along to the meeting on 12 December. It helps with the planning.
E mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Best Wishes
 
Gordon Prentice and Bill Chadwick
on behalf of the Shrink Slessor Square Residents' Group

The Town of Newmarket will be deciding its position on the controversial Slessor Square development in early February.

Staff are preparing a report with recommendations for the meeting of the Committee of the Whole on 4 February 2013.

By e mail on 4 December 2012

Mayor Van Bynen,

I am writing to share a concern that Slessor’s lawyer may have placed the Town of Newmarket’s Council and staff onto a path that (without speedy action) could result in a “lose-lose” position for the town.

Allow me to provide a little background before I explain the risk. Since early this year there have been many meetings on this development, ranging from those between staff and developer, to public meetings, etc. During this time the developer has presented at least two new versions, the latest being designated as a “without prejudice” version. This version was introduced to several representatives of the “Shrink Slessor Square” residents group several weeks ago. At this meeting it was evident that extensive negotiations had taken place between the Town’s staff and developers on issues that are of secondary concern to residents (easement for Hydro, shading of the inner courtyard, etc). Meanwhile no progress had occurred on density,  and the design’s height had regressed from the previous versions’ 16 floors to 20 floors. The negotiations between this version and the previous one had occurred without any direct involvement of our residents group.

In summary, close to a year has expired with no progress on density, and only a little “down and up” change on height.

At Friday’s OMB Pre-Hearing, Slessor’s lawyer proposed the Town Council makes a decision on whether to accept or oppose the “without prejudice” design by early February, to be followed by a mid February OMB Hearing (if the Council votes to accept this design). In this event, presumably only the residents group would be challenging OMB’s approval, so the likelihood is the “without prejudice” version would gain OMB blessing. Hence, a dangerous precedence will have been created. The “floodgates” would be open for developments throughout Newmarket to ignore zoning and long term plans, because the Council capitulated on Slessor’s obscenely oversized demands “without a fight”. It would be “open season” for developers to almost do what they wanted.  Alternatively, If Council votes to oppose Slessor, you face an (un-budgeted?) expenditure for lawyers and experts that Councillors said may cost between $300,000 and one million dollars!…… Cancelling Council coffees will not pay for this…. Hence, you would be facing a “lose-lose” vote.

May I suggest the Town and staff needs to immediately launch intensive negotiations with the Slessor team to downsize density as a minimum. The residents group would like to be part of these negotiations, and I commit to seek expedient resident buy-in to a serious counter proposal that brings the density much closer to the often mentioned planning objective of 200-250 people+jobs/Hectare.

In addition, it seems prudent for Councillors and yourself to expediently approve the staff report paragraph that seeks approval to pursue outside expert help (an item that was postponed at the last Committee of the Whole). Otherwise the Slessor team will not be motivated to seriously negotiate. 

Bill Chadwick on behalf of the Shrink Slessor Square concerned residents

Forsyth Road, Newmarket

Copies to all Councillors, Regional Councillor John Taylor, Senior Planner Marion Plaunt

 

Shrink Slessor Square was today granted “party” status by the OMB at a special pre hearing in Newmarket Council Chamber.

Bill Chadwick told the OMB Adjudicator, Sylvia Sutherland, that he was seeking Party status on behalf of the residents’ group “Shrink Slessor Square”. He said the group would be seeking incorporation.

There were no objections.

This means that Shrink Slessor Square is now an active player on an equal footing with the Town, the Region of York and, of course, the developers.

We can quiz the developers and the other parties – and be questioned in turn.

The full OMB hearing is pencilled in for 11 April – 2 May 2013.

The developers are now proposing (a) a ten storey building with 203 units (b) a 20 storey building with 248 units (c) another 20 storey building with 193 units and (d) a nine storey building with 218 units – all squeezed into a tight site of under five acres.

The Slessors describe this as their “settlement offer”.

The Town will be meeting to consider its response.

If the Town doesn’t accept it, then it is taken off the table and the matter goes to a full hearing on the original twin towers application. 23 and 26 storey towers on three storey podiums.

Sounds like 26 and 29 to me!

A hearing on this “settlement offer” is down for 19, 20 and 21 February.

But, in the meantime, for Shrink Slessor Square, it is full steam ahead.

We will be keeping everyone informed as we take steps to become incorporated as a non-profit body and meeting in the near future to plan the way forward. 

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