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Residents tirade not appreciated by Erin councillors; mayor apologizes

by Mike Robinson

ERIN - She came, she saw, she complained.

While some members of the 50 or so people in the gallery were at a public meeting in Erin to discuss a future fill bylaw and its effect on the town, delegate Lorretta Bender was there to dwell on the past and the future of her own property.

She used her time as a delegation on Sept. 27 to speak at length about her fill application and the application to renew that fill permit. Her application was denied by staff, citing detrimental effects and that the land was not rehabilitated to a better condition.

Bender took issue with that assessment, as well as with planner Sally Stull and the municipality.

She contended her land is now in better condition without the rocks, boulders or holes in the landscape, and with no dead apple trees. She said the areas worked now have lots of vegetation and grass.

She added as a work in progress, deficiencies were cleared up as that work went along. But, she is concerned there is no avenue to appeal permit rejections other than through the person who rejected the permit. “There is no non-bias appeal process,” Bender said.

She questioned why a $10,000 deposit to deal with deficiencies was returned if there were still concerns with the property.

“Returning the deposit, indicates the town was satisfied with the work done,” Bender maintained.

She said if there were deficiencies, the town should have used the deposit to remedy the situation. Bender said the rejection of her permit “was subjective and without substance.”

Much of her presentation centred around her perceived treatment.

A stop work order, Bender said, stopped her from doing any more improvements to the property. “The final finishing touches were far from complete.”

She believes the farm, left as it is, will depreciate in value instead of being an asset to the community.

“We’ve never had a chance to finish things off as planned,” she said, adding the land previously was poor for agriculture and would not sustain any crop. She said the plan was to fill the entire 83 acres in stages.

Bender also maintained that since a permit was issued, the town became responsible for the condition of the site - since the deposit was to address deficiencies.

She said because of the bylaw, she has been forced to get a survey of the 83 acres that cost over $10,000 plus a permit - for which she’s received no benefit.

She was also upset the fill project had to be staged in the first place, as well as having to wait for grass to grow to a certain length rather than just show evidence of seeding.

As a result, she said she believes the project was delayed unnecessarily “and developing the land as I see fit. If inappropriate material was placed here, the town had the deposit to fix the problem.”

She also said she believes she has been treated unjustly, unfairly and been discriminated against.

“I feel persecuted with no recourse,” Bender said. “If there is a problem with our property, then the permit process failed the Benders.”

Near the end of the meeting, as councillors were given an opportunity to speak, councillor John Brennan said he wanted to make certain everyone in the room understood the matter clearly.

“Our staff act in a professional manner and are not biased. They do not treat people on the basis of whim,” he said. “They do the best they can to provide the best service - to everyone on an equal basis. I will not entertain any more slanderous comments.”

Councillor Josie Wintersinger agreed with Brennan that the personal jabs were inappropriate.

Councillor Deb Callaghan said staff worked with integrity and honesty, “and they do have our full support.”

It was only after comments made by council that Mayor Lou Maieron said, “I was remiss in not protecting our staff, but perhaps was caught up in the discussion. I do apologize for that.”

He then warned people against making such comments in the future.

“As a learning mayor, you’re going to make such mistakes once in a while,” Maieron concluded.

 

 

October 7, 2011

 
 

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