By Mike Williscraft
Grimsby has seen many “firsts” of late when it comes to planning matters and another materialized Friday with an Ontario Land Tribunal Case Management Conference dealing with 141-149 Main St E., the Cole’s Florist property.
Losani Homes has proposed a seven-storey condo be developed on the site.
While more than 100 residents opposed the development – as well as Town of Grimsby’s planning staff – it was Losani which launched an appeal after the Town did not issue a decision within the 120-day required response time.
“This is unique, obviously, for the first time we’re actually having two case management conferences in a day. One in relation to Planning Act matters and the other is relating to stuff and used to be under the Conservation Review Board,” said meeting chair, Gregory Bishop, a former vice-chair for the Ontario Municipal Board, and a vice-chair of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
“The issue I had is whether there are two more appeals or four more appeals,” Bishop added later when outlining the procedures for the hearing.
Two appeals related to the Town’s intention to designate two of the properties as heritage sites. However, Bishop noted his notice cited two other appeals related to demolition.
The hearing was not to hear evidence, but to formalize the process under which the appeals would be handled, scheduling dates and deciding participants.
“My client filed an application for an Official Plan amendment and a zoning bylaw amendment to develop the property,” said Denise Baker, legal counsel representing Losani Homes.
“As part of processing that, the Town of Grimsby issued a Notice of Intention to Designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act. So then, in addition to the OPA and zoning bylaw, because of the way the Ontario Heritage Act works is once a Notice of Intention to Designate is issued, you have to treat the property as if it is designated until that’s resolved.”
“Then my client filed, and was turned down, a demolition permit.”
The result, said Baker, was the series of appeals and one objection filed by Losani.
Baker noted there was no consensus on whether or not all the matters would “stay together” during the process, but that was her preference as “they are all entirely related.”
On the matter of just how many files are related to the hearing, Baker said she believes there was a filing error on her side which duplicated two of the files, so there should only be four files being considered, not the six Bishop outlined at the outset.
Bishop said he recognized the parcels had been merged, “but if they’d not merged they really could be considered separate, identifiable parcels, therefore you could argue there are six appeals, not four.”
Baker noted some adjustments would be made to paperwork to clear things up.
Town of Grimsby’s legal counsel, Tom Halinski, said his opinion on consolidation differs.
“We have not had a substantive discussion about exactly how the hearing would unfold in terms of what goes first and whether the matters proceed sequentially or are heard together. One of the Notices of Appeals speaks to consolidation, sir, and we can certainly have a discussion about which of the three options makes more sense; proceeding sequentially or together or consolidated. It’s going be my submission that outright consolidation is probably not correct given the different statutory framework.”
Halinski noted that, while he is participating representing the Town, the Town had not yet taken a formal position on the application.
“I expect that to happen shortly,” said Halinski.
“But as you saw, sir, from the draft procedural work we were able to put together a ‘preliminary issues’ list. The other thing you will hear from us…is that that issues list was put together with the stipulation that some additional time be provided to the parties to finalize it.”
Several residents spoke to their request to be included on the process’s participant list. Those residents have cited concerns of heritage, traffic, parking and density issues.
Ruxandra Bucataru of the citizens’ group Save Main Street was also among those requesting participant status.
Bucataru noted SMS represents more than 420 residents.
Bishop noted that while she represents a large group, her presentation at the meeting could only be considered as her personal representation as the SMS group must be incorporated to allow for one representative to speak on their behalf.
Halinski suggested, and Bishop agreed, Bucataru would be included on the participant list and if the group is incorporated before the hearing it could be upgraded in terms of participation.
The 10-day hearing was set down to start on Monday, July 4, 2022 with some aspects being consolidated, while others would remain separate.