The town has now received a complete application for the subdivision planned by Benny Marotta on John and Charlotte Streets, bordering the Rand Estate property.
SORE (Save our Rand Estate) members have been involved in all the legal challenges regarding the three John Street East properties and the one on Charlotte Street, and they intend to be involved in discussions about the subdivision.
Benny Marotta of Solmar first presented a concept of the subdivision in January, 2018, at a meeting about Randwood at the community centre.
The current application proposes a significant density increase to what was originally presented, with 125 single family homes and 66 semi-detached, says SORE spokesperson Lyle Hall.
“SORE definitely intends to fight Mr. Marotta’s latest attempt to flout NOTL development standards,” says Hall. “Our focus is, and always has been, on the entire Rand Estate.
“We are not opposed to development, but his proposed subdivision plan is a completely inappropriate, high-density development that would leave almost every square inch of the back half of the Rand Estate covered with houses.”
Marotta is asking for Official Plan and zoning amendments to rezone a triangle of agricultural property so that the complete parcel will be residential and open space. His application refers to the proposal as low density.
In an emailed response to questions, Marotta said this proposal is not high density, and has fewer lots than the previous application.
The complete property is already considered within the urban boundary in the Niagara Region Official Plan.
“It’s far worse than Mr. Marotta’s original subdivision plan that he showed the community at the public meeting in early 2018,” says Hall. “By our count he’s added approximately 30 more houses. He made a big deal out of claiming that he was misunderstood and just wanted to make NOTL even more beautiful. This is a bizarre way of showing that.”
The next step for SORE is to await the Conservation Review Board in July, says Hall, which will provide advice on the town’s intention to designate Marotta properties as heritage, under the direction of the previous council in August of 2018.
SORE is a party to that hearing and will be presenting evidence, says Hall. “From there, the heritage designation question will go back to council for a final decision. After that, the Marotta companies (Solmar and Two Sisters Resorts) need an official plan amendment, a zoning bylaw amendment and approval of a subdivision plan to proceed with this proposal.”
SORE will continue to defend the integrity of the Rand Estate and of Old Town NOTL, says Hall.
“We’ll be only too happy to see Mr. Marotta at the Conservation Review Board, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, and in the courts, if needed.
We know what we’re doing, we have lined up and continue to use a team of leading experts to assist us . . . and we haven’t lost a court or tribunal challenge yet to Mr. Marotta. Mr. Marotta should know we are not going away.”
Lord Mayor Betty Disero says she can’t comment on whether this application is an increase in density over what was presented as a concept, because that never came before council.
She is also waiting to hear the results of the Conservation Review Board hearing, she says, and her goal of preserving the heritage aspects of the properties remains paramount.
“There’s still a long way to go,” says Disero, “and a lot of heritage issues that need to be resolved. My thought is always to figure out what needs to be preserved and protected first.”
The response to SORE’s most recent call to action, says Hall, via emailed alerts and website postings, “has been overwhelming. We are not a voice in the dark . . . there is substantial opposition to Mr. .Marotta’s proposal.”
The next step for the town to address the subdivision application will be a virtual Open House on Tuesday, June 15, at 5 p.m.
That will be followed by a virtual public meeting on Wednesday, July 14, at 5 p.m.
To register for the Open House, email Mark Iamarino at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 905-468-6423.
To register for the public meeting, email Peter Todd at email@example.com or call him at 905-468-3061, ext. 228.
We recommend you register now so that your place is secured and you do not forget.
Written comments can be emailed to Peter Todd.
The application is posted on the Town’s website at notl.com/content/public-notices-under-planning-act.