Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 2015
Source: Niagara This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Richard Hutton


Council to appeal committee of adjustment decisions at OMB

NIAGARA FALLS - City politicians voted to appeal a Committee of
Adjustment decision that could have paved the way for medical
marijuana grow ops in the city.

Councillors backed a series of motions put forward by Coun. Carolynn
Ioannoni at a special council meeting Jan. 2 that mean the city will
be appealing zoning variances approved by the city's Committee of
Adjustment that added "nurseries" as an approved use on some
industrial lands in Niagara Falls. "Nurseries" include everything from
garden centres and greenhouses to medicinal marijuana grow ops.

Approval had been granted for variances to zoning at two industrial
sites - the former Redpath sugar plant on Garner Road and the former
Kimberly Clark facility on Victoria Avenue and Bridge Street - at a
Committee of Adjustment meeting on Dec. 16 but Mayor Jim Diodati
called the Jan. 2 meeting after opposition to the decision from the
public swelled when the committee's decision was made public. The vast
majorityof the opposition came from residents living in Fernwood
Estates off Garner Road.

"Our zoning bylaw doesn't designate (nursery) for a specific use,"
director of planning Alex Herlovitch said. "Whether it be medical
marijuana, poinsettias or cucumbers."

But Coun. Carolynn Ioannoni said she had felt "duped" by the way the
process unfolded.

"We're here because our own process wasn't followed properly," she

Ioannoni said council had already made it clear in November 2013 when
it asked for a staff report on how to deal with applications for such
facilities. That report, she said, never materialized.

She also criticized the fact that the issue was handled at the
Committee of Adjustment and not at council.

"It was a great way to massage it downstairs where nobody could see
it," she said.

Kim Craitor said "opposition will only grow if we continue down this

He said that while he was MPP for Niagara Falls, he saw how a similar
proposal was handled in Fort Erie when a grow op was proposed for the
former Pharmetics plant on Jarvis Street.

"The rationale was that the building was designed for that," Craitor
said. "People knew and accepted it as a proper use. It had the support
of residents, the community and town council."

Speaking on behalf of Fernwood Estates residents, Steven Abbruscato
said "council owes it to us" to right the wrong by way of appeal of
what he referred to as "a terrible mistake."

He said that he and his neighbours were aware of other "interesting
establishments" on Lundy's Lane such as strip clubs and

"We knew these places existed," he said. "But we never saw this

Real estate agent Emily Barry said she accompanied Abbruscato to
collect signatures. She said that about half her neighbours in
Fernwood Estates were not even aware of the potential for a medical
marijuana facility in their area and further, five of her neighbours
indicated they would put their homes up for sale should such a
facility be opened.

Craitor, meanwhile, said that the city did have the ultimate control
over whether or not any project could ever proceed given that a
condition of federal licensing is a letter of support from the city.

"We actually have huge control over this just by saying 'no', " he

Council also asked staff for a report on how they can deal with the
medical marijuana issue at its next meeting Jan. 27.
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