MUSKOKA LAKES - It always comes back to zoning in Muskoka Lakes. This time a zoning misunderstanding cost the township $1.6 million.
Six years after buying a portion of the land that used to be Milford Manor, a Brampton-based developer won a lawsuit against the Township of Muskoka Lakes, which allegedly began with inaccurate zoning information.
Alan Furbacher, president of Correct Group, said they tried to settle things amicably with the township outside the courtroom.
“We’re hoping that the settlement will result in good resumed relations with the municipality because prior to this happening we had no issues with the municipality,” Furbacher said.
Currently the developer has no other projects in Muskoka Lakes.
The company, a numbered Ontario company and an affiliate of Correct Group, allegedly planned to improve the nine-hole golf course, as well as create a high-end resort/cottage development on the land, only to find out the zoning, which had been changed a few years earlier, no longer allowed for that kind of development.
The zoning change was requested by the former owner, but never accurately recorded in the township’s schedules.
“It was a long saga and I’m kind of glad it’s come to an end,” Furbacher said.
The settlement cost Muskoka Lakes $1.2 million to pay for damages, plus another $400,000 to buy 21.56 acres of the land. The land acquisition is part of a global legal settlement.
Muskoka Lakes treasurer Steve Rettie said the money to cover the settlement was accrued in 2011 under “legal - other” in the planning department budget and in a $600,000 purchase for parkland.
Muskoka Lakes now owns most of the golf course except the fourth hole and part of the fifth hole.
Muskoka Lakes CAO Walt Schmid said staff has reconfigured the golf course and installed a new green, so it is back to an operational nine-hole golf course.
Schmid is currently compiling reports to present to council next week on their options of what to do with the land.
“My recommendation to council will be take the time to get some public input and look at this in the long term,” said Schmid.
He suggests the township keeps the golf course running this year while they look into things.
The property still owned by the developer affecting the fourth and fifth holes is residentially zoned waterfront property.
“They can have a dwelling on that property, like any other property on Milford Bay, basically on the waterfront and subject to certain setbacks and coverage,” said Steve Fahner, director of planning for the township.
Furbacher did not say why the company kept that portion of the land, but said they don’t have any plans for the property at this time.