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Town sued over Bay Beach condo plan

The Ridgeway Herald special web release from April 29, 2011 edition

The Bay Beach situation is going to get worse before it gets any better and promises more fun for people with a cynical bent.

Seven ratepayers represented by Buffalo lawyer John James Keenan have sued the Town of Fort Erie and the Molinaro Group in order to nullify the agreement to construct the condominium project in Crystal Beach.

The statement of claim seeks to permanently stop the transfer of land on which the high-rise will be built.

The plaintiffs are Norma Nowak, Patricia Murrett, Derek Crane, Norma Bleeks, Linda Campbell, Robert Lund and D&L Property Ltd.

Keenan is the lawyer who councillor Don Lubberts wanted the town to hire to review the agreement as the anti-condo slate of councillors struggled to live up to their campaign promises.

Keenan spoke to council earlier this year and said the Town is well within its right to back out of the deal and would not suffer any negative consequences.

His assessment contradicts that of John Mascarin, whom council ultimately hired to review the agreement. He reported that the Town faced a dire situation of years of litigation and would likely lose in court if it breached the contract.

Mascarin also noted councillors could also be called to account personally if they “frustrated” any attempt to move forward with the project.

For a complete report on Mascarin’s review, please see the story Lawyer predicted years of litigation.

Keenan’s statement of claim focuses on the transfer of land, saying it is beyond the power of the Town to convey the property, contravenes the Municipal Act because it amounts to illegal incentives (bonusing), and it is basically a freebie giveaway that provides financial benefit to a commercial enterprise.

The claim also seeks costs and “such further and other relief this Honourable Court deems just.”

This is the second court action since the Ontario Municipal Board resoundingly approved the project in November. The Fort Erie Waterfront Preservation Association has applied to the court to appeal the OMB decision and is awaiting a response.

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