POWASSAN – Local developer Arnold Keown is attempting to prove council is holding him to a higher standard.
“I asked for the site plans for all of the other developments that have been approved by council to see if they did a storm water management plan, but none of them were given to me,” said Keown. “I think it’s unfair. We should all be treated the same.”
According to an email sent to the deputy clerks and Mayor Peter McIsaac, as part of a Freedom of Information request submitted to the Municipality, Keown asked for copies of the rezoning approvals for the Windsor Hotel site, Eide’s multi-residential application from 2011 (now the medical centre), and Lonny Rose’s multi-residential.
Keown, owner of the former Church of God property located at the corner of Main Street and Valley View Drive, said he asked for all of the approvals to prove he is the only one being asked for additional site plan requirements in respect to his rezoning application to allow for an eight-unit rental complex to be built on the property. Specifically, Keown said he wants to know why he’s being asked for a storm water management plan when other developments in the area weren’t under the same level of scrutiny.
“I asked the same question,” said Coun. Todd White. “I know that nobody else has been asked for it.”
White said he has been told that removing any soil from the property reduces permeability, meaning less storm water would be absorbed into the ground.
“That property has been draining there for the past 40 to 50 years, but I’m on the fence because it’s a unique property,” he said in respect to the development’s impact on drainage.
According to Keown, quotes he has received to complete the storm water management plan came in around the $20,000 mark.
“It’s ridiculous to force someone to pay for something like that when it’s not needed,” said Keown. “They’re just using it as an issue to cost me money and try to scare me away. But I’m not doing that.”
White admitted he’s frustrated with the application and would like to see council stick to the actual requirements.
“They’re asking for things above and beyond what’s required,” he said. “We’re entertaining too many concerns. We should just deal with the laws and regulations that exist and when all of those are met, we can move forward.”
Frustration over Keown’s rezoning application isn’t unique to White.
In an email response to Norm Poulin dated Aug. 8, Coun. Nancy Barner stated, “I am just sick to death of the entire matter and many of the fellow councilors with which I am trying to work.”
Mayor Peter McIsaac maintains “the ball is truly in Mr. Keown's court.”
“Regardless of FOI requests or Mr. Keown's ongoing desire to keep this issue in the local media, the facts remain the same. There is a ruling by the Ontario Municipal Board that requires Mr. Keown to submit a complete site plan. The Municipality of Powassan is also required to up hold and follow the ruling of the OMB,” said McIsaac, in reference to an OMB hearing that took place in July. “Mr. Keown only needs to complete a storm water management and landscaping plan. There are some simple parking issues that can be easily dealt with – all issues that can easily be resolved… He can submit the required documents or he can revisit the OMB. I welcome either approach.”
White said the application has had an undertone of being a legal issue early on, which he thinks stalled the process.
“Very early on tempers flared and legal threats were made, so everybody got nervous about making decisions without legal or professional input,” said White. “Both sides have complicated this somewhat.”
Throughout the process Keown has said councilors Dave Britton and Nancy Barner, who both sit on the local planning board, have been purposely stalling his application.
“Aside from Dave and Nancy and that whole battle, the rest of council just wants to find a solution,” said White, noting he still isn’t confident the property can accommodate the number of units Keown wants to build.
“Nobody ever communicated to me that it was okay from the get go, but what I know now is that he should have been given approval for the eight units a year ago and then it would have been up to him to prove that he can accommodate everything that is required,” said White. “We sort of did it backward, so that was the first setback.”