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Condo project goes under the microscope

The Bay Beach condominium proposal — officially known as the Crystal Beach Gateway Project — went under the microscope for seven days over two weeks last month.

The Ontario Municipal Board heard an appeal by the Fort Erie Waterfront Preservation Association, a group incorporated this summer to fight the proposal to build a 12-storey condominium on Town-owned land next to the beach.

Examining the project is Reid Rossi, a member of the OMB, who received 13 exhibits and heard testimony from 20 people questioned by three lawyers. The bulk of the evidence are nine thick binders containing 3,000 pages which detail the plan, background materials, supporting documents and witness statements.

Thirteen separate appeals were filed this summer which were later wrapped into the FEWPA appeal and one appellant withdrew. The appeal was based on 15 issues of land-use planning principles, traffic, urban design and environmental impacts.

It may take Rossi “several months” to sift through the evidence before a decision is reached.

Possibly before then, Town council may consider a motion to repeal the zoning amendment that started this hearing process.

Four councillors-elect, incumbent Bob Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard, submitted affidavits at the hearing stating that they intend to make good on their campaign promises.

“Fort Erie Council will be asked to amend or repeal bylaw 26-10 in its current form in order to relocate the proposed development from the south side to the north side of Erie Road and/or to significantly reduce the height of the proposed structure and/or its encroachment in the public beach areas,” each of the statements reads.

FEWPA lawyer Eric Gillespie tabled the affidavits as part of his motion to postpone the hearing for 90 days to give the new councillors a chance to overturn the zoning amendment.

The new council will be sworn in on Dec. 6 but no business other than the inauguration of the members of council is expected to take place.

The first scheduled meeting of council when the bylaw could be repealed is Jan. 18, but the new councillors may be able to force an earlier meeting since they constitute a majority.

Rossi denied the motion to postpone the hearing, saying the council would be “unfettered” by the board’s decision to amend or repeal the zoning amendment or to deny a future site plan agreement.

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