Last night, Newmarket councillors gave the go-ahead to staff to engage outside legal and planning experts to help the Town resist plans by the Slessors to develop the site of their former car dealership, directly opposite Upper Canada Mall.
You can read the report from the Town’s solicitor, Esther Armchuk-Ball, here. Open the Council agenda for 17 December 2012 and scroll to the Corporate Services Report – Legal Services (item 11).
The Slessors are going to the Ontario Municipal Board, claiming the Council has been dragging its feet, unable or unwilling to make a decision on the matter. The Slessors original planning application for 29 and 26 storey towers will be decided by the OMB if an alternative proposal, proposed by the Slessors at the eleventh hour, is rejected by the Town.
The alternative – the so-called settlement offer - is just as bad as the original.
The Slessors are trying to squeeze as much as they can onto their tight 4.6 acre site. There is next to no difference in density between the original application and the settlement option.
Last night, Newmarket councillors made the right decision (to commission outside experts to help prepare the case against the Slessors’ monster development) but the debate was conducted in camera, behind closed doors, at the request of Ward 7 councillor, Chris Emanuel.
We were told this was to allow councillors to get candid legal advice from the Town’s top in-house lawyer before moving to the vote.
After an hour, the Council reconvened in open session but there was next to no debate on the substantive issue – the merits or otherwise of the Slessor development.
Instead, councillors unanimously carried a motion directing legal counsel and staff to represent the Town of Newmarket at the OMB hearing starting on 19 February.
A second motion, authorising staff to engage outside experts if the Slessor application goes to a full OMB hearing in April, proved to be more controversial with Dave Kerwin and Maddie Di Muccio voting against.
Cllr Kerwin did not let us into his thinking why he was voting against.
Maddie Di Muccio is never so coy. She tells us she doesn’t want the Town to get to a full OMB hearing. She complains she hasn’t been briefed on the substance of the application.
So she would be voting against.
No surprises there.
So, what next?
We shall be calling another meeting in January to update everyone on the latest developments.
And, in the meantime, we shall be preparing our own critique of the two Slessor applications, outlining reasons why, in both cases, they should be rejected.
Earlier, Maddie Di Muccio votes against allocating a further $38,000 to the existing $65,000 Glenway Development Applications Planning Consultant Budget.
This support from the Town is crucially important to Glenway residents and will help them defend their neighbourhood against the predatory outfit, Marianneville Development Ltd, who want to build on the fairways of the old golf course and change utterly the character of the area.
When it comes to the interests of developers and the interests of residents we know whose side Maddie is on.