by Gary McHale - The Regional - Opinion
December 7, 2011
Two weeks ago I had a story regarding the development of the DCE property. In this story I had made some clear statements against the developers - Don and John Henning. Last Thursday I had an opportunity to meet with the Hennings at their lawyer's office to go over the documents I had and the documents in the hands of their lawyer.
As a result of this meeting I wish to express my deepest apology to the Hennings for both the tone and inaccuracies of the story that was published. While the story stated that numerous by-laws were violated, implied the County did something special by paying $256,000 to the Hennings and that the Hennings had illegally sold lots this is factually untrue.
My meeting with the Hennings was very pleasant which is a credit to the Hennings' character considering how angry they must have been due to this story. As such, I now publicly ask them to forgive me for my story which didn't present the whole truth. I will correct a few details now.
As early as April 2004 the Hennings were ordered by the county to oversize the water and sewer pipes on DCE. This added cost to the development has no advantage to DCE but merely an advantage to future development near DCE. This type of thing is common and is normally covered by the local county and in turn billed to a future developer in order to recoup taxpayer's cost.
The problem in the county written record is that it repeatedly states the full cost is to be covered by the developer of DCE. The Hennings told me that the county verbally committed to paying for this cost which is supported by two obscure sentences contained in an 80 page subdivision agreement. While the Hennings paid approx. $520,000 for work ordered by the county the county refused to cover this and only paid half. Again, the only thing in the county minutes is the Hennings' obligation to pay this and nothing about the county's duty to cover the cost.
It is believed that if the Ontario Government had not stepped in and taken over DCE then the county would have applied for and received approval for the Ferrell farm development. The developer of the Ferrell farm subdivision would have paid back the Haldimand taxpayer for the county's portion of cost of over sizing. Currently the county now has to wait until some future date whereby any developer near DCE will receive this bill and Haldimand taxpayers will then be repaid.
My story stated that work started on DCE prior to the signing of the Subdivision agreement, which I stated is not permitted. However, in Aug. 2005 the county passed a motion allowing the Hennings to build one model home and to start the infrastructure work without the need of signing the agreement. As such all work on DCE was reviewed and approved by the county prior to the Hennings doing any work.
One of the more serious allegations in my story was that documents appeared to have been back dated to ensure that the subdivision was registered back in Dec. 2005. I was assured that any delay was due to the surveyor and lawyers involved and not because the Hennings were attempting to back date documents.
There is evidence to support the fact that the Hennings had properly filed their material. First, since the county allowed the subdivision to be properly registered on Dec. 1, 2005 it would mean all the paperwork to be correctly filed. Second, the registration of the subdivision received the signed approval of Mayor Marie Trainer, Janis Lankester as County Clerk and Lloyd Payne as president & CEO of Haldimand County Hydro Inc.
One of the documents processed 5 months later was property transferred to Haldimand County Hydro. It is hard to imagine that Mr. Payne would have signed off on the subdivision without seeing the proper transfers in place when he gave his approval in Nov. 2005.
There is also evidence to support the view that the county had reasons to delay and stall the complete legal transfer of property. After the occupation in Feb. 2006 the Hennings filed for an injunction which included Haldimand County. Not only did Henco Inc. seek an injunction against Native Protesters but Haldimand County is named as a respondent in the motion.
On March 3, 2006, just 4 days after the occupation started, the court ordered the removal of all barricades on county owned roads and highways including Thristlemoor Dr. and Surrey St. which are located on DCE and owned and maintained by Haldimand County. Judge Marshall upheld the same order on March 9, 2006.
The fact is the county has owned the roads on DCE since Dec. 2005 and they are legal roads that by court order are to be open and maintained by the county. The county fought against these orders and supported the OPP and McGuinty government.
To this day the county owns the roads and approx. another 10 acres located primarily at the front of DCE. This means that for five years the county has allowed criminal activities to repeatedly occur on their property. The county has refused to enforce any of their by-laws on county property.
Mayor Hewitt has repeatedly stated that he cannot enforce by-laws on DCE because he has no say over Ontario Government land. The fact is much of the by-law violations have occurred and continue to occur on county property so my question to Hewitt is when will you enforce the law?
Meanwhile, the OPP arrested 8 people this past Saturday for trespassing on the county road called Surrey St. stating the Ontario Government ordered the arrest. This is the same OPP that has refused to help any residents who begged them to remove Native trespassers.
The brave OPP officers had no problem handcuffing Merlyn Kinrade and placing him in a paddy wagon but have been unable to help residents remove trespassers during the last 5 years.
Racist OPP Policies still exist in Haldimand - Mayor Hewitt what are you going to do to bring an end to this? Much of the lawlessness is occurring on county property.