An offer to settle an Ontario Municipal Board appeal for a residential development at 24 Brock St. N. was accepted by the City of Hamilton, but won’t necessarily stop the hearing from moving forward.
The third party to the appeal – a Dundas neighbourhood organization called HEARD (Heritage Escarpment and Responsible Development) – has not accepted the settlement offer.
The group made clear its opposition to the settlement offer in an email circulated three days before last Friday’s city council meeting where councillors voted to accept the offer – and keep it confidential unless it is accepted and finalized by the OMB.
“HEARD supporters must continue to remind councillors why they denied the application in September 2012,” the email stated. “We urge you to write to the mayor and councillors to remind them.”
The original application denied by the city was for a six storey, 48-unit building. The neighbourhood association listed no less than eight areas where it feels negotiations on a proposed settlement failed – including the size of the building, its proposed setbacks, intensification, density, transition from other buildings and proximity to surrounding residences.
But the confidential settlement offer to the city satisfied Dundas city councillor Russ Powers, who reversed his earlier opposition to the plan. His council colleagues followed his lead.
“There are still unresolved issues,” Powers said. “The community knows that. I think that the settlement that is proposed by the applicant provides a base and I support it.
“Our understanding is an acceptable settlement was not achieved with HEARD.”
After the council meeting, Powers explained the motion passed by council effectively gives the city’s lawyer direction to take the proposed settlement back to the OMB whenever the hearing resumes.
“HEARD will give their solicitor their own direction,” Powers said. “Hopefully there is a resolution, or the OMB member will decide the issues for a full hearing.”
He said the challenge posed to city planning staff and councillors is the fact that property owner Alex Szabo can immediately build a three-storey building under the former Town of Dundas official plan, but is permitted up to six stories under the not-yet-approved new Hamilton Official Plan. Powers described the proposed settlement as middle-ground, but said he couldn’t give any more details.
Michael Connell, the lawyer representing HEARD at the OMB hearing, said the next step is to set a date to resume the pre-hearing that was adjourned in March.
Connell said lawyers for the three parties have responded to the OMB’s request for available dates, but the pre-hearing had not yet been scheduled.
Connell said he’s not in a position to comment on what HEARD’s position will be when the pre-hearing resumes. He said there is always a “technical” possibility of a settlement – but would not comment on the “likelihood” of HEARD reaching a settlement.