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Dec. 3, 2021 | Friday
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Solmar, Two Sisters drop challenge to Rand designation
The Rand Estate. (File)

Developer Solmar has dropped its challenge to the town's plans to designate parts of the Rand Estate under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In a letter Tuesday to the Conservation Review Board, a lawyer for Solmar (Niagara 2) Inc. and Two Sisters Resorts Corp. said while their objections have been withdrawn, "our clients intend to pursue alternative remedies."

It is not known what those remedies might be, but lawyer Sara Premi, of Sullivan Mahoney in St. Catharines, suggested there could be "subsequent proceedings" in the case.

Solmar plans to file applications under the heritage act seeking a binding decision from the Ontario Land Tribunal on the property's heritage status, she said.

As well, Solmar, which is owned by developer Benny Marotta, will be revising its proposed subdivision plan for the properties at 200 John St. E. and 588 Charlotte St., she said.

Marotta declined to comment on the decision.

The community group Save Our Rand Estate (SORE) was pleased with the announcement the developer is dropping its objection to the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake's designation plan.

"We have lost count of how many legal battles Mr. Marotta and his companies have initiated and then lost or abandoned concerning the Rand Estate. This is just the latest," SORE said in a statement on its website.

"SORE, and we assume the town, will be considering seeking costs from the Marotta companies for dragging them through years of a now-abandoned (Conservation Review Board) challenge."

Disputes over proposals for four properties related to the historic Rand Estate have been ongoing for more than three years. 

Challenges to the conservation board regarding 144 and 176 John St E. were abandoned previously.

SORE also encouraged the town to "vigorously pursue the heritage act prosecution ag‎ainst the Marotta companies for the 2018 clear cutting" of trees on the estate.

"A potential remedy for the town in the event the prosecution is successful is to reinstate the illegally destroyed heritage landscape and mature trees," the group  said.

In her letter, Premi also said, "As a direct result of the disclosure required in the (conservation board) process, Solmar (Niagara 2) Inc. has finally been able to gain a much greater understanding of the town’s position on heritage attributes as it affects the subdivision."

Based on that, she said Solmar will amend its subdivision plan, "in particular as it affects heritage features."

"This will include recognizing, protecting, re-creating and rebuilding heritage features, including some that are (i) beyond the scope of issues identified in the (Conservation Review Board) process; and/or (ii) the subject of disagreement between various heritage experts."

The revised development and any related applications under the heritage act "can be considered by the town and, if necessary, on appeal to the tribunal, which is empowered to make binding decisions, rather than just recommendations to the town."

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