2.4 C
Niagara Falls
Friday, December 8, 2023
Letter: Developer disagrees with columnist’s viewpoints
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

I occasionally read Brian Marshall’s Arch-i-Text column. It sometimes consists of fabricated nonsense, so I don’t take it too seriously.

However, it occurred to me that by sharing his incorrect opinions in the media, there might be people who mistakenly consider him an expert on par with qualified professionals.

It seems he has bestowed upon himself a title, creating his own qualifications. So, what exactly is an architectural design/heritage consultant anyway?

From what I can gather, it’s merely a made-up label that one adds to present themselves as an expert. Mr. Marshall isn’t a certified architect and as far as I can tell has no current professional qualification.

Creating your own credentials doesn’t qualify you as an architect or planner, in terms of constructing or critiquing buildings or projects. He appears to have little knowledge about planning and much of what he writes is either incorrect or exaggerated.

He recently suggested a minor variance is simply a matter of distinguishing between large and small numbers, when in reality, it has nothing to do with quantity. It is merely a term used to describe a specific type or classification.

He also exaggerated that our proposed hotel’s height exceeds the bylaw by “approximately 60 per cent,” when the actual figure is 50 per cent.

Although that number also exceeds the bylaw, it is also well below the current planning guidelines for Ontario.

Town staff are challenged with having to use the community’s official plan and zoning bylaws, which fail to meet the criteria set by policies of higher levels of government. This may explain why the town has lost nearly every hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB, LPAT or OLT) in the past 25 years.

However, I must express my gratitude to Mr. Marshall for inadvertently creating a conflict for town council.

As a member of the municipal heritage committee, he shared his opinion in a public forum and seems to have already made up his mind about the application without even considering its specific details.

This could demonstrate a pre-existing bias and create a serious challenge when presenting evidence at a land tribunal hearing. I believe it leaves the appearance the process was tainted by a committee that provided prejudiced guidance, making it difficult to defend at a hearing.

In regards to Mr. Marshall’s unfair criticism of Coun. Erwin Wiens in his Aug. 17 column (“Questions about role of town’s urban design committee“), he is incorrect on some of his observations related to the urban design committee.

The committee is advisory to council and staff, and its terms of reference, state: “The committee does not have the authority to approve or refuse applications or make policy decisions. The committee provides an additional level of consultation to enhance the town’s approval process.”

Furthermore, official plan policy 10.4, which Mr. Marshall cites in this article, refers to a market study being required for new or expanded retail developments with a commercial floor area greater than 900 square metres (about 9,600 square feet).

Benny Marotta’s application is for a hotel, which is not a retail use and that is probably why the planning department did not require a market study. Clearly, it appears this author did not check the wording of policy 10.4 before criticizing our diligent staff.

The writer further inaccurately describes the changes under Bill 23 by saying it only applies to residential rezoning applications and that the “very, very tight” timeline in question is actually two years long. The tight timelines were established under Bill 109, not Bill 23.

He is wrong because the Planning Act requires council to make a decision on an official plan or zoning amendment within 120 days, not two year. Furthermore, developers will get their application fees refunded if not processed under the timelines.

Keep in mind when you read Mr. Marshall’s opinions that he lacks professional qualifications and expertise beyond a layman’s awareness.

Elevating his thoughts to the same level as those who are held to higher standards by their professional colleges is an insult to the hard work and dedication those experts have put in.

After all, opinions are the least valuable form of human knowledge; they require no accountability or genuine understanding.

Rainer Hummel

Subscribe to our mailing list