Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More work for lawyers, less money for you

According to the London Free Press, the city's planning committee, chaired by Coun. Joni Baechler, will be going ahead with a lawsuit to force London developer Vito Frijia to remove concrete barriers on his property that block vehicle access between his shopping centre's parking lot and a smaller parking lot serving a Wendy's and a Bank of Montreal at the corner of Southdale and Wonderland Roads. Frijia has so far ignored two deadlines to comply with the city's demands, and his lawyer Alan Patton quite bluntly warns that "[t]here's no authority for a court to order the barriers removed," going so far as to say that an unidentified but highly-placed city staffer urged him to present Frijia's case before the committee to deter it from a costly and fruitless court case. To no avail, apparently… in part because politicians do not have to bear the costs of their actions, but more importantly because the city's position is essentially a political construction rather than legal one.

Both the planning committee and the city's planning department argue that removal of the barriers is necessary "because they weren't contemplated in the plan for the site approved by the city." Patton contends that the site plan requires only an agreement on access between Frijia and Jim Hevey, owner of the smaller property, that has obviously not yet been reached. The planning committee, on the other hand, has determined that the "site plan specifies that if the two private partners don't agree on shared access, then the city will impose an arrangement." The weakness of the city's position is immediately apparent then: an imposed "arrangement" would override the actual requirement of the site plan according to the city, that being an agreement between the property owners which the imposed arrangement could not possibly be interpreted as comprising. The city's authority to dismiss its own site plan requirements in order to enforce its site plan would be contestable at the very least. In any case, Patton's confidence and previous successes in legal contests with the city certainly do not augur well for a judicious use of taxpayers' money in this case.

What is most mystifying is the city's obstinance in applying a self-serving and expansive interpretation of its authority in what should strictly be a matter between private property. There is no demonstrable public interest or public obligation in forcing this issue — it does so because it can. There is, however, a demonstrable public interest in dropping the matter, and that is that it is the public's money at stake. On the subject, there is no word yet on whether the city will be using its famously unsuccessful in-house counsel or, once again, hiring an outside lawyer at even greater expense to taxpayers.


Honey Pot said...

Hey, do a story on the Ontario government allowing smoking at Casino's now. The friggen whore-dogs have people pumping whacks of money into slots, hence government coffers. Most of us know a casino is designed to cater to every whim of the patrons so they won't leave. They don't want them going ouside in the cold for a smoke and getting a whiff of reality, realizing they can't afford to be there. Fucking bastards, they put the bars out of business, and now they are allowing it in government sponsered money grabs. There are no clocks in a casino, and oxygen is pumped in over the machines for a reason.

Joe Molnar said...

"What is most mystifying is the city's obstinance in applying a self-serving and expansive interpretation of its authority in what should strictly be a matter between private property."

If the Editorial Board at the London Free Press had any collective balls they would castigate those idiots on London City council for interfering in private property matters.
But then the LFP has had left-lib mush mush as editors for the past twenty years so what can one expect from their looney left council which gets a free ride from the local rag.

Anonymous said...

I was associated previously with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Mr. Patton sang a different tune back in 2005 when he lost his case at against Hevey at the OMB. (Document is OMB document PLU50496 if anyone would like further info.)

To quote Patton at that time: "... Mr. Frijia has offered to give up all control if 922(Hevey) and he cannot agree on a mutually acceptable configuration (on access). He added that the 26 August 2003 amending Clause 9 strengthens the wording further by supporting Mr. Frijia's claim that he will let council decide and he will not appeal it to the OMB. Thus, Mr. Patton submitted that Mr. Frijia has not persistently resisted completion of the access arrangements."

Today, both parties cannot agree, Patton is now against letting council decide and Frijia is obvioulsy resisiting completion of the access arrangements. In fact, Frijia wants to be paid just over $100,000 every year for "use" of his lot - funny! I thought the dispute was over access? Let's face it - his barrier or proposed flower garden cannot stop anyone from parking at Loblaws and walking over - I don't why anyone would logically do that? There's plenty of parking on Hevey's lot - I know, I'm a regular customer too.

If Frijia & Patton would have honoured their words, their would be no issue and no lawsuits. The only one profiting here is Patton at about $500 per hour.

Further, the OMB also stated that: "despite Mr. Frijia's signature on development agreements, his actions indicate no desire to cooperate with Mr. Hevey on access points".

Why don't all the sick characters in this poorly scripted play, move left from centre stage, grow up and resolve this like professional businessmen and spend their energies making their next million(s).

MapMaster said...

Interesting (link to the abovementioned document here)…

This must remind those of us who are not associated with the OMB to be grateful not to have to sit in on these kinds of hearings. I would not have discounted the possibility of Patton and Frijia posturing, of course, and the lack of agreement is, as you suggest, essentially the product of childishness stemming from Frijia and Hevey's previous disagreements. However, it is Frijia's property, and he has a right to be as childish with it as he wants, despite the city's claim upon the property owner's rights.

I erred in intimating the actual merits of the city's legal position when in fact I only inferred them from the London Free Press' report — an unlikely prospect, which I should try to remember to avoid. Nevertheless, the essential weakness of the city's position is that it is using the resources of taxpayers to press an issue in which the taxpayers have no stake at all, and in which the city itself has no stake except for, of course, its rules — rules among which, if I understand the OMB document, actually contributed to the dispute at hand. In other words, the stake is that only of the bureaucrats in the planning division. Since it is my money used to defend the stake, I have no sympathy.

Dick said...

Never underestimate the possibility of Patton posturing... among other things.

In fact, Lionel Hutz comes to mind.