In a letter dated January 8, 2024, the lawyers for the Marotta company seeking approval for a subdivison on the Rand Estate have formally requested that the Town grant their client a “permanent easement” over the Town-owned Heritage Trail to enable access to the proposed subdivision. A copy of that letter can be found below.
In this letter, the Marotta company indicates its intent to withdraw its request for approval for a subdivision road on the 200 John Street panhandle assuming the Town grants the requested easement. The letter follows a resolution passed by Council at a special meeting on December 15, 2023 wherein it was indicated that the Town was prepared to grant such an easement if requested.
That same Council resolution noted that the “historic” access off John Street between 144 and 176 John Street that is proposed by SORE and was part of the Council-approved Romance Inn in 2011 was both “viable” and “would lead to an appropriate level of intensification” on the subject lands. The resolution made it clear that the only reason that access was not being pursued was because Benny Marotta was refusing to make it available to himself.
Contrary to what we have been told has been suggested by one Councillor in particular, SORE has vigorously opposed both the idea of the Heritage Trail access and the closed door process by which Council agreed to it without public input from the outset. We intend to take that fight to the Ontario Land Tribunal assuming that Council does not change its mind. The “historic” access between 144 and 176 John that was in use until at least 1996 is clearly preferred according to SORE’s experts and does not require interference with an important Town-owned recreational asset in the Trail. We have been and remain perplexed why Council ever entertained the Heritage Trail idea. The OLT can effectively force Mr. Marotta to agree to the historic access as proposed by SORE by simply refusing to grant approval for his proposed subdivision if it relies on the Heritage Trail access (or the 200 John panhandle access which the Denise Horne report specifically recommends Council not approve).
We also note in passing that the January 8 letter to the Town states that the Marotta company will pay “fair market value” for the Heritage Trail easement. We wonder how that fair market value will be determined. Will Mr. Marotta’s profit on the proposed subdivision be taken into account? Will the interference with users of the Trail be taken into account? Will the concerns of the hundreds of donors to the Trail be taken into account? Will Mr. Marotta try to offset the cost of his easement against a parkland dedication so that the Town winds up with nothing?
We look forward to further insight from the Town.