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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Letter: Many problems with plan for Rand Estate
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

Like a recurring nightmare, the Benny Marotta-Solmar subdivision development proposal debacle continues at full throttle with the latest de-facto salvo from the proponent.

I lived in Niagara-on-the-Lake, adjacent to the Rand Estate, for most of the 1990s so I am very familiar with the property.

The revised planning documents filed by Mr. Marotta and his ever-expanding planning team make for a painful read, but nevertheless are worthy of every town resident’s attention as the eventual outcome will influence future planning decisions.

Any person with a background in applied heritage conservation can readily identify the proposal’s failures.

A few immediately come to mind:

The proposal at 172 housing units is far too dense for the Rand Estate site and is disrespectful of adjacent neighbourhoods and existing heritage designations.

Additionally, the proponent’s Disneyland-esque approach to heritage conservation and commemoration is superficial and defies in-situ heritage conservation principles.

The proposal calls for a walkway from the subdivision to Two Sisters Vineyards – further insulting concerned residents.

Also, it will be a challenge for emergency vehicles to navigate the tight turning radius of many interior roads – especially in the winter.

The proposed stormwater pond facing Weatherstone Court (conveniently far away from Two Sisters Vineyards) will attract mosquitoes and is a potential safety hazard.

The proposed emergency access road from Charlotte Street is problematic on many fronts.

Children and adults (many with physical challenges) are regular users of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail.

With the emergency access road running parallel to the heritage trail at Charlotte Street, just envision the chaos for trail users when emergency vehicles arrive.

A fitting penance for Mr. Marotta’s desecration of a large swath of trees and flora on the Rand Estate property in November 2018 would be for him to reinstate the landscape.

Future generations will no longer be able to admire the hawks and eagles that once perched on the majestic trees that stood on the Rand Estate.

Instead, local residents and visitors must be content with gazing at the two menacing-looking concrete eagles that adorn the entrance to the winery.

Mr. Marotta has missed an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for his family and business interests in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

There is still time for Mr. Marotta to modify the development proposal to embrace the site’s intrinsic built and cultural heritage attributes.

 Dismantling and reassembling parts of existing buildings that are designated under the Heritage Act is akin to façadism – something the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake should not embrace.

Mr. Marotta can do better.

Alan Wojcik

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