Martha/Lakeshore developer requests mediation for 26-storey proposal

ADI revisedThe developer for the proposed 26-storey building at the foot of Martha & Lakeshore in downtown Burlington has requested mediation in an effort address the city’s issues with the application in advance of the scheduled hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board on Feb. 21, 2017.

Adi Development Group requested, through its legal counsel, that the City of Burlington participate in an OMB-led mediation process. The city has agreed to participate in mediation.

Dates of the mediation will be scheduled by the OMB’s mediation hearing officers. Parties to the hearing, and numerous participants including many residents, will be notified of the dates. However the mediation meetings themselves are only open to the parties to the hearing, not the participants or general public.

A pre-hearing was scheduled Oct. 27 and 28 to go over issues list that will be the focus of the hearing in February 2017. I attended the pre-hearing on Oct. 27, which concluded after about half an hour. The focus of the discussion was the request for mediation and need to set dates. Once the dates are set, the board will issue a procedural order, which will include a revised issues list.

My Take: It is always preferable to negotiate rather than litigate. That said, the parties are far apart: the current Official Plan and Zoning for this property call for a 4 storey building, with provision to go to 8 storeys under certain circumstances and with provision of community benefits. The request is for 26 storeys. We can’t simply pick a number somewhere in the middle to avoid a hearing and call it good planning. Any agreement on this proposal must be based on sound planning principles which go beyond simply the height of this project. Most of the issues can be addressed with a properly-scaled project more in keeping with the existing planning provisions. I’m also concerned that discussion now goes behind closed doors and the public has no input until something emerges from the mediation itself.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

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  1. Litigation!!! do it and do it twice, a message should be sent, find the money, cancel something, crowd fund, Im in.
    The community is being circled by wolves, the’ve been getting in for to long now, or did someone leave the gate open.

  2. My interpretation of the goal of ‘mediation’ is to find terms by which each party is prepared to move to get to a middle ground that can be agreed on. This property is zoned to 4 stories with the potential of community benefits taking it to 8 stories. With ADI’s starting position at 26 stories, it seems improbable to me that a mediated solution will bring this within the range that the City could (or should) agree. It is my understanding that this behind closed doors mediation is not binding but will be taken to City Council for their support of the mediation outcome. If a mediated solution proposal takes it above 8 stories, I expect City Council to reject it and support ‘investing’ in legal action.

    Burlington has already invested years of resource, widespread reviews with Burlington residents and significant money to develop a plan that meets the growth requirements of all levels of government. If ADI is allowed to ignore this extensive and proactive city planning, we will see a steady stream of developers using this as precedent to implement their aggressive plans not only downtown but in a growing number of wards in our city … and our City planning process becomes toothless and irrelevant.

  3. Eight stories was the highest possible option – that’s what it should be! – Counsel has made or given into enough bad planning decisions that we are having to live with – Otherwise why have any limits at all – then build 63 stories – or is that to overboard?

  4. Is this Binding Mediation? If it is, this is very troubling, in that it is not a public process and this project forever affects the public that reside, recreate and do business in the Downtown Core. The Public and the City of Burlington have refused this project, not once, but twice, as 26 to 28 storeys is inappropriate at Lakeshore Road and Martha Street. This Developer bought the property, aware of the zoning, but he has moved forward marketing and taking deposits on the proposed condominiums; why a developer is even allowed to take money from people on an unapproved project is another issue. Equally troubling, I was told in his sales offices by one of his employees that this project was approved for 24 storeys, but they were going back to the City to request 26. He seems to be under the assumption that with his deep pockets, throwing enough money and lawyers at this issue, he is going to outlast City coffers and resident opposition and ‘get his way’. This young man also seems to be under the impression that he knows better than anyone else what is best for the City of Burlington. It will be very unfortunate for Burlington and set a detrimental precedent going forward, if this individual is allowed to bulldoze his way over residents and the City’s Official Plan.

  5. This particular develpoer has appeared to be confrontational from the beginning and now they talk of mediation by the UMB. I’m hoping the city sticks to the city plan and prevents the developer from playing their games

  6. With having already ruined our virgin waterfront allowing such a massive development of Bridgewater, I believe it is time to hold strong on original plans for the Martha/Lakeshore high-rise. From 4, to agreeing on 8 levels is more than sufficient. 26 should be flat and outright turned down. Stand firm on 8, or have them move on to other sites!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!This is a no brainer!!

  7. How did this request ever get this far – from Official Plan max. 8 storeys to 26 storeys !!?? I think most people are of the opinion that once issues get to the OMB it is already a “done deal” – maybe, just maybe this time it will be a positive outcome for the people of Burlington and not the developer. I support Marianne and other Council for taking a stance.

  8. They are going to lose their appeal to the OMB because their proposal is ludicrous and violates many of the local building codes. They can almost certainly look forward to a lawsuit from the condo next door. The OMB is also about to have their authority over these decisions curtailed. I do not approve of any compromise with these people. I do not feel that the city should negotiate anything except strict adherance to the local bylaws.

  9. I agree that mediation, or in this case where negotiation with ADI failed, at least an attempt at mediation, is preferred to litigation.

    But the ADI request for mediation seems strange, and to me, devious, given the just completed negotiation failure.

    I share the Councilor view, shared elsewhere here, that a settlement just cannot be something picked out of the air. It must conform to some existing OP and zoning metrics, of appropriate scale, that we already have in our applicable policy framework.

    I’m not a fan of notions of so-called “good planning” because you can buy whatever opinion you want as to what this is. I have read numerous planning justifications written by developer consultants, and they always, always, say the proposals constitute “good planning”.

    That’s what they are paid to say, so no surprise. I just get tired of seeing this called professional “expert” planning opinion, and thus admissible in litigation as credible, when it’s so often just concocted crap.

    And I agree with the concern that discussion now goes behind closed doors and the public has no input. This to me is another continuing part of the ADI stealth strategy to undermine resistance to their plan by excluding some voices that might oppose it. No transparency here.

    I just don’t trust a process that eliminates opposition.

  10. We agree !!!!, mediation is better than a hearing at the OMB.

    It’s extremely important the city is able, or at least attempts all avenues to negotiate a mutually expectable solution to this and other development proposals. There are times when it’s difficult even impossible however, in those instances we have the OMB to mediate and if necessary make those decisions for us.

    Whatever finally gets approved and built won’t be something simply picked from the air, it will be decided on the applicable policies, good planning and will ultimately benefit the city.

  11. It is essential that Burlington stand up to this developer and do everything necessary to prevent this unreasonable project from proceeding, and whatever project does proceed it falls within the current zoning regulations that are in place. It is a shame that precedents have been set that result in exactly this type of avaricious development against the wishes of elected council and the people of Burlington. I am afraid downtown Burlington will someday be a “Manhattan Island” at the end of Lake Ontario.

  12. I’m not sure what the difference is between an OMB-led mediation and a formal OMB hearing. Is the former non-binding? Also, can the mediation in any way influence a subsequent hearing? I’m sure ADI knows and that this is somehow part of their strategy to advance their planned 26-storey development!

    I fully support your stance Marianne, because this high-profile file will significantly impact future developer – planning department negotiations and thereby our City, unless of course the OMB’s role/ power is drastically reduced in the meantime. We can only hope!

What's your take?

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