As many of you who sat in on Friday heard, the Ontario Land Tribunal held a Case Management Conference (CMC) concerning the appeal by the Marotta group on its proposed Rand Estate subdivision.
We are pleased to report that SORE was given party status. As was the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. The Niagara Parks Commission, the Niagara Foundation, the Niagara Conservancy and other citizen groups and individuals were given participant status with the Commission noting the possibility it would upgrade its status to party in the future.
As the Marotta group has not even filed applications under the Heritage Act, and no Issues List has been agreed on, it was recognized that a hearing could not occur before the spring of 2024 at the earliest given the necessary procedural steps.
Accordingly a second CMC was scheduled for February 14, 2023, to assess the situation further and possibly set a hearing date at that time.
Both SORE and the Town requested that the hearing occur in person when it is finally scheduled given the significant public interest and the importance of the Rand Estate. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, lawyers for the Marotta group opposed that request and asked that the hearing be only by video conference. No decision was made on this matter by the Tribunal.
Provincial Court update
Separately, the Provincial Court in Welland convened a special session on Monday, Sept. 12, to hear two separate, and regrettable, legal challenges by the Marotta group to the Town’s attempt to prosecute the Marotta companies for the outrageous November, 2018 clear cutting of a large portion of the Rand Estate.
Lawyers for the Marotta companies argued that the charges should be stayed on two separate grounds –unreasonable delay in bringing the matter to trial and improper search and seizure of evidence by the Town.
The Justice of the Peace reserved her decision to October 5. SORE very much hopes that the court allows the charges to be decided on their merits rather than being dismissed on legal technicalities. An appeal from the JPs’ decision is likely no matter what is decided.