The Town’s historic Main Street South received heritage status at the Council meeting on 21 October despite an eleventh hour plea by Clock Tower owner Bob Forrest to defer the decision.
Forrest wants to demolish historic commercial properties adjacent to the Clock Tower to make way for his seven storey condo which would destroy the area’s character.
Full marks go to Bob Buchan, President of the Newmarket Historical Society but speaking in a personal capacity, and Athol Hart, chair of Heritage Newmarket, for their very effective appeal to councillors to press on with the heritage district designation and not to give in to Forrest's outrageous and self interested demands for more delay.
You can see the deputations and follow the debate on Rogers TV’s coverage of the Council meeting on 21 October.
You can also read the letter from Forrest to the Town’s Director of Legislative Services in Developers Documents (click panel on left).
In his letter to the Town, Forrest says:
Andrew, on September 24, 2013 we received the aforementioned notice indicating that a By-Law would be going to Council for final approval on October 21, 2013 to implement the Lower Main Street Heritage Conservation District Plan.
We have been in continuous dialogue with the Town of Newmarket staff, Heritage Committee members, community residents and Councilors for over one year regarding a redevelopment proposal for 180 to 194 Main Street South which falls within the boundaries of the Heritage Conservation District.
We have been working to design a building that respects the Town of Newmarket Official Plan for Heritage Conservation in advance of our Zoning By-Law Amendment (ZBA) application. The process has included many staff meetings, meetings with community members, the Heritage Committee, presentations to Committee of the Whole, and a public open house.
Following the outcome of the June 17, 2013 Committee of the Whole meeting, and based upon additional comments received, the building was redesigned yet again and the ZBA application was submitted on August 23, 2013. The ZBA application included the submission of a Heritage Impact Assessment with supporting justification for the development.
Given that on September 9, 2013 Council asked staff to bring a HCD (Heritage Conservation District) By-law forward and on September 23, 2013 the Town sent out a notice regarding the impending HCD By-Law at Council on October 21, 2013, soon after us making the ZBA application, it would appear on the surface that the By-law is being enacted in response to our ZBA application.
Despite our efforts to determine (through inquiries of staff and Council) whether there will be any additional impediments to the proposed development as a result of the HCD By-law, we have received only conflicting messages. This leads us to believe that the implications of the by-law are not fully understood. As we have yet to be provided with any clarity on this question (including whether or not the by-law will be applied to our current application), we respectively (sic) request that Council defer the HCD By-law until such time as a clear response is provided for the benefit of Council and the applicant. We also ask that we be notified of all reports, meetings and decisions respecting the draft Heritage By-law.
As an example of special pleading, Forrest’s letter will take some beating.
Given he now faces an uphill struggle to get the permission he needs to demolish historic buildings in the heart of the Heritage Conservation District, he should withdraw the eviction notices slapped on his small business tenants a few weeks ago.