Long-time NOTL resident and Rand Estate neighbour Brenda Parks watched the recent livestreamed March 30 meeting between SORE and Benny Marotta with interest. When Mr. Marotta stated that the 100+ year-old boxwood hedge (a hedge specifically protected in the Rand Estate Official Plan amendment) was still alive, she knew action was required. Ms. Parks penned the following letter to the Lord Mayor and Council:
“After watching the March 30 meeting between SORE reps and Mr. Marotta I thought Council would benefit from photographic evidence of the state of the boxwood hedge that Mr. Marotta insists is not dead. Please see the stumps where the historically protected hedge once stood. What other misinformation is this developer being assisted by council and staff in getting away with? If any councillor would be interested in viewing this and other destruction, you are more than welcome to contact me. I have lived at 5 Christopher Street for 27 years and have archival records of the property.” – Brenda Parks
Questions that need to be answered
Some obvious questions spring from Ms. Parks’ letter:
- Who from Council and/or staff will take Ms. Parks up on her offer to view the destruction at the Rand Estate?
- Have staff been on site to inspect the property? Could it reasonably be expected that such destruction would have been noticed by now?
- What steps will be taken to ensure no further destruction occurs?
- What penalty (including any compensation) will be sought from Mr. Marotta/Solmar/Two Sisters given the blatant disregard for the requirement to protect the hedge?
- In light of actions by Mr. Marotta, how will the Town provide assurance that the Rand Estate proposal will be dealt with in a manner that protects the community’s interests (as opposed to the developer’s)?
Responses to these questions should be provided in a swift and unequivocal manner. SORE will follow up with Council and staff over the coming week and will report back to the community on this issue.
The by-law that protects the boxwoods
The historic boxwoods on the Rand Estate are supposed to be protected by Town of Niagara on the Lake. This is the text of the by-law.
By-Law No 4511-11 | Part B | Sub Section 10
“The boxwood hedge within the buffer area adjacent to the western property line shall remain and be properly protected and preserved to insure its continued growth. At the site plan stage measures to mitigate construction impacts to protect the boxwood hedge will be required.”
What was said in the meeting about the boxwood
This is a transcript of the live-streamed discussion between SORE and developer Benny Marotta of Solmar and architect Rob MacKenzie of Quartek on March 30, 2018. This segment is at the timestamp 50 minute and 55 second mark of the video.
SORE question: What’s the status of the boxwood now?
Answer (Rob MacKenzie): “Well, it’s still there.”
SORE follow-up Q: “Is it alive?”
A (Rob MacKenzie): “I’m not sure.”
SORE follow-up Q: “Can I get an answer to that, is the boxwood alive?”
A (Benny Marotta): “Of course they are. Did someone say that they are dead?”