Council defers planning report, developer says that kills Wendy’s proposal



By Ron Giofu


Town council voted to defer a amending development agreement for 83 Sandwich St. S. and that deferral has killed the chances of Wendy’s coming to Amherstburg, according to the property owner.

The deferral came as a result of a letter from Sobeys’ lawyers with the majority of council, with the exception of Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Councillor Rick Fryer, opting to wait until that matter was addressed by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). However, developer Joe Mikhail said that deferral effectively kills the plans to have a Wendy’s on the site due to timelines that company has.

According to Mikhail, the letter was circulated to town council about one hour before the meeting.

Mikhail said Wendy’s wants a shovel in the ground by September and that isn’t possible now that the matter is deferred. For it to happen in Amherstburg at his site, the process would now have to wait another year and Mikhail believed Wendy’s would not agree to that.

“They’ll just walk away,” said Mikhail. “They’ll go to LaSalle.”

Mikhail alleged that what Sobeys “with the concurrence of council” did was kill the deal for Amherstburg. He said 50 potential jobs were lost in the process and accused “corporate greed” from Sobeys as the cause of the deferral.

The process to bring a Wendy’s fast food restaurant to Amherstburg cleared an initial hurdle as council approved the concept of allowing a drive-thru at the proposed 83 Sandwich St. S. site. The image, included on the town’s agenda package for last Thursday’s meeting, shows the proposed design.

The letter from the law firm of Aird & Berlis, and signed by Steven A. Zakem, stated that they would file an appeal of the Official Plan designation and zoning bylaw amendment for the site at 83 Sandwich St. S. The letter disagreed with statements in a report to council and that “contrary to the statements in the council report, the landlord has not co-operated with Sobeys Capital Inc. to ensure concerns have been addressed. Sobeys’ planning consultant has provided correspondence to the Town of Amherstburg’s planning department on May 10, 14 and August 8 of 2018 raising concerns with reliance on a 2001 Traffic Impact Study and has requested an updated Traffic Impact Study for the site. To date, this request has been ignored.”

Rennie Rota, who runs the Amherstburg Sobeys, said he is pro-development as is Sobeys. They are also concerned about the safety of their customers, claiming the driveway off of Sandwich St. S. would be narrowed to customers going in and out of the store.

“I have no problem with Wendy’s going there,” said Rota. “I think it would be good for my business. What we’re saying is, if you are going to build it, build it right.”

DiCarlo said if the matter had been approved, the matter would have proceeded to the site plan stage where the issues between the parties could have been worked out. Fryer said the process was nearing an end and believed the decision to defer was “short-sighted by some people.” Commercial development is needed in Amherstburg, Fryer added.

“We need it,” he said, adding that decisions like Monday night’s could impact other developments. He said “Amherstburg will lose out” if developments such as Wendy’s don’t come.

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