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Feb. 21, 2020 | Friday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Marotta's comments on court case were self-serving
The Rand Estate.

Dear editor:

I would like to make several comments in response to news articles in your Jan. 16 edition regarding developer Benny Marotta’s court case against the Town of NOTL plans for a historical designation of the Rand Estate.

Your front page photograph of Mr. Marrota will be seen by many as a subtle effort on the part of The Lake Report to promote him and his interests even though his challenge was firmly rejected by the Superior Court of Ontario in what was a three-way action.

On page two of the article, the claims made by Mr. Marrota can only be seen as being made out of his own self-interest and are, as is usually the case, without substantiation.

For example: The town’s decision (to designate) is an attempt to stall progress by his company. It is not clear what his definition of progress is. He repeats himself when he claims the decision to designate was designed to stop him from moving forward.

Should he decide to appeal the Superior Court of Ontario decision, he would like the case to be decided in Toronto. This suggests that in his opinion the local courts are unable to render a fair judgment in his case.

This will be seen by many, including the courts, as an insult to the judiciary, made without any justification. 

He claims that the town is acting out of malice, painting himself, of course, as a victim.

In complete contradiction to the unsuccessful effort by Solmar Development Corp. to have the heritage designation quashed by the court, he agrees to the heritage designation of the Rand Estate and the Dunington-Grubb landscape. (This no doubt will confuse many readers.) It also lies in direct contradiction to his previous Notice to Demolish dated June 15, 2018.

Mr. Marrota claims that an election promise to a small group of people was made to stop him from completing the property. (It is difficult to understand what he means by this.)

While he feels badly about the legal costs, Mr. Marrota knows full well that the elected town council has a moral and legal responsibility to the residents of the town, as well as any cultural or heritage assets that are determined, to protect them from developers such as Solmar.

This comes with a cost and the elected town council is obliged to meet the challenge imposed upon it. It is certainly within his power to help reduce these costs, if he so chooses.

Your editorial in the same edition, “Rand Estate battle far from over,” includes a number of items that call for a response.

Whether the battle is far from over will be decided by Solmar, of course. Even so, this editorial writer seems to have become a self-appointed spokesperson. 

The remainder of this editorial is completely speculative, unwarranted and inappropriate.

“Does our council understand ...” Town council is responding to a bad plan proposed by Solmar and anybody with common sense knows this.

“Is it solely heritage preservation or is it partly nimbyism ... ? “  SORE (Save Our Rand Estate) has several hundred supporters who are widespread, so it can hardly be accused of nimbyism.

All of this is unwarranted speculation which leads to uncertainty among your readers.

I, as well as most people, would agree that Randwood cannot be left neglected and are not against appropriate development.

The problem has been created by Solmar Development Corp., whose so-called dream is to construct a hotel and later high-density housing on the most iconic property in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The horrendous decimation of historic trees in November 2018, for which Solmar is now being prosecuted, illustrates the disconnect between responsible development and Mr. Marrota.

This development plan gives no consideration to the the very special location or to the surrounding neighbourhood, so opposition to the plan is not surprising.

At the same time, Mr. Marrota has shown no inclination to negotiate an acceptable resolution with the town nor to those residents whose lives and properties would be directly affected.

Derek Collins

NOTL

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