I am writing in response to Sil Ranucci’s letter in your Sept 22 edition, “Town leaders give in to SORE tactics.”
Mr. Ranucci discloses his conflict of interest as a consultant for the Marotta group and then goes on to say that he “finds SORE’s tactics terrifying.”
With respect, if he or anyone else really wants to be terrified, they should read the “Benny Marotta media archive” section of the SORE website.
There you will find numerous stories from various media sources concerning the past exploits of Mr. Marotta and his associates. Mr. Ranucci should acquaint himself with that history.
Mr. Ranucci also refers to “the town’s expensive legal battles with the Marotta family.”
He appears not to understand some basic facts. All of the “legal battles” to which he refers have been initiated by the Marotta group, not the town:
- An appeal to the Conservation Review Board of the previous council’s decision to designate the Rand Estate under the Heritage Act.
- An application to the Superior Court to declare that council decision illegal.
- An appeal from an unfavourable decision of the Superior Court to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
- An appeal to Local Planning Appeal Tribunal seeking approval of the Marotta convention centre on the front half of the Rand Estate.
- An appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal seeking approval of a high-density subdivision on the back half of the Rand Estate.
This is apparently the way Mr. Marotta operates: using the legal system to try to bully small municipalities into submission.
Mr. Ranucci would apparently prefer council just roll over when Mr. Marotta sends his lawyers in.
He also fails to mention that the Marotta group had to pay the town and SORE legal costs of almost $200,000 when the spurious court challenge to the legality of the previous council’s heritage designation decision was finally abandoned.
The sole exception is the prosecution initiated by the town under the Heritage Act for the outrageous clear-cutting on the back half of the Rand Estate right after the last municipal election and before the current council was seated.
The town alleges in that prosecution that landscape features designed by the renowned Dunington Grubb firm on the Randwood Estate were illegally destroyed.
Mr. Ranucci would evidently prefer the town turn a blind eye to such wanton and deliberate conduct.
And even here, he fails to mention the Marotta group has recently initiated two legal challenges to this prosecution, clearly trying to avoid a day of reckoning on the merits of the charges and possible reinstatement by the town at Marotta expense of any illegally destroyed landscape.
SORE doesn’t own the Rand Estate, Mr. Ranucci. Unfortunately for all of us, Mr. Marotta does.
But thanks to the actions of the council, the entire Rand Estate is designated under the Heritage Act.
I encourage him to review the heritage designation bylaws passed by council if he wants to understand the “our” in SORE’s name.
The built and designed landscape features of Randwood now protected under the Heritage Act are public assets and a vital part of the cultural heritage of Niagara-on-the-Lake, not the playthings of Mr. Marotta.