John Miceli

Developer to pay for cost of tree and its removal from construction site

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A town-owned tree will cost a local builder $8,500 plus removal costs.

Drew Coulson appeared before town council last Tuesday night regarding a tree located at the corner of Lowes Side Road and Sandwich St. S. He said his company was represented at the Committee of Adjustment several times on the matter and the original intent was to keep the tree.

The installation of storm and sanitary sewers was done in the area, but a letter to the town from Coulson stated “I am also submitting letters from 4 legitimate sources stating that the actions of building the new homes on the Lots, in no way initiated the decaying and subsequent dying condition of the tree. Therefore, I submit the following letters attesting to the fact that the tree was well-advanced in decay prior to the commencement of construction of the new homes.”

“I’m willing to pay to cut the tree down,” said Coulson. “I’m not one who likes cutting down trees.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said a report from the town’s arborist said the tree was formerly in good condition before construction began in the area.

A tree near the corner of Sandwich St. S. and Lowes Side Road was the source of controversy at the most recent town council meeting.

“Thank you for your letter although I don’t believe any of it,” Pouget told Coulson.

Pouget said the town’s tree bylaw “is very, very clear” in that it says that trees have to be protected if near excavation and that snow fence or another type of barrier has to be installed. She said she didn’t see any of that near the tree in question, a 36-foot silver maple.

CAO John Miceli said the tree bylaw is also very clear with regards to how to determine the value of trees with Miceli adding that he told Coulson that the cost of the tree is $8,500 and the builder is responsible for removing the tree. Miceli added that town arborist Bill Roesel said the tree is a danger and needs to be removed.

“I was not going to stop construction of three houses,” said Miceli.

Councillor Leo Meloche believed some of these types of issues are on the town, as trees are placed in “precarious positions.”

“We’ve created some of our own problems here,” said Meloche.

Councillor Joan Courtney said it “would have been nice” if the arborist was at the meeting. She questioned the tree having been fine one year and having to come down the next.

“If there are trees deteriorating that fast in one year, we should look at all of our trees,” said Courtney.

Councillor presses for information regarding police bill for festivals

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

An issue relating to policing costs for non-town sponsored festivals came up again at the Oct. 23 town council meeting.

As she did two weeks previous, Councillor Diane Pouget pressed for information regarding money that the town may have to write-off for policing costs for two festivals. In an e-mail she later sent out to people in the community, she believes $17,000 is still owed for costs relating to the Mardi Gras and the Harvest Festival.

Pouget wanted more information and asked why DiCarlo was “stopping me from making my motion.”

DiCarlo responded that the information being requested could not be discussed in public session.

“It’s public money,” Pouget responded. “Why can’t I get a report? This has been going on for two years.”

CAO John Miceli said efforts to recover the money are still ongoing.

“We are following the collection policy the town has approved,” said Miceli.

Miceli maintained a position he took at the Oct. 9 town council meeting that efforts to collect the money will continue and that, if it is not successful, then consideration for writing it off will be brought tot town council.

Pouget indicated that the taxpayers should not be on the hook for such an expense, and that those responsible for the bill should be held accountable.

Councillor Rick Fryer believed it was an issue moreso for the Amherstburg Police Service Board and that “in a roundabout way,” the issue is due to an APSB decision that town council is not privy to.

Pouget made a motion to direct administration “to provide council with a report regarding the status of a significant amount of money owed to the Amherstburg Police Department for services rendered at a festival or festivals, that were not sponsored by the Town of Amherstburg. This report must be made available at our next council meeting.”

That motion was defeated in a 3-2 vote with Fryer, DiCarlo and Councillor Leo Meloche opposed. Pouget and Councillor Joan Courtney were in favour. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Jason Lavigne were not at the Oct. 23 meeting.

Town encouraging residents to participate in flooding subsidy programs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Oct. 6 rain event caused flooding in town, much of which was in the Kingsbridge subdivision, and the town is hoping more people take part in the flooding subsidy program.

According to a report from the town’s public works department that appeared as a supplementary agenda item at last Tuesday night’s council meeting, 41 homes had reported flooding with 30 of them coming from the Kingsbridge area. Six incidents of flooding were reported from the Pointe West subdivision while five reports came from other areas.

As of mid-day Thursday, that number had grown to 54 homes across Amherstburg.

The town has stated that the storm water and wastewater systems were both fully functional “at all times, before, during and after the storm.”

“It is difficult to determine the exact cause of every home’s flooding as not all homes within the flooding areas were subject to basement flooding or the same underlying cause,” the report stated. “Protecting each home from basement flooding is the best defence.”

The report, signed by director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu, outlines work done to the Amherstburg sewer system since the 1970’s. Part of it notes the 2017 voluntary basement flooding protection subsidy program that council established, which sees the town subsidize such items as downspout disconnection, foundation drain disconnection, backwater valve installation and sump pump overflow programs. A portion of the 2018 Edgewater forcemain project also sees one of the Edgewater lagoon cells being converted into a temporary wet weather storage cell.

Approximately 40 residents have taken advantage of the voluntary basement flooding protection subsidy program, the town states. That was initiated after the 2017 rain event that hit McGregor.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he had an inch of water in his Texas Road basement and wanted to know how much water hit the area. In a 30-minute period between 7:20 p.m. and 7:50 p.m., the area experienced 36.4mm of rainfall at an average intensity of 116.9 mm/hr. A rainfall intensity of over 98.9mm/hr in a 30-minute period qualifies as a 1:100 year storm.

Fryer believed additional measures need to be looked at, noting 1:100 year storms are happening more frequently.

“It’s more like one in 10 year storms,” he said.

Fryer, who also chairs the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) board of directors, said “it is climate change. There’s no doubt about it.”

Citing the report, Councillor Diane Pouget pointed out that the town has been taking action to prevent flooding since the 1970’s. She asked if another garbage collection day could be added but was told by administration that Windsor Disposal Services (WDS) was contacted and they are going to try to stick to the same schedule, but add another date if one proves necessary.

CAO John Miceli said town council has taken a “leadership role” in trying to address the flooding matters and urged residents to take part in the basement flooding protection subsidy program. He said the town is trying to mitigate the issues but indicated more residents need to take part in the program.

“If you haven’t already notified the town, please do so,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “The key to fixing the problems is knowing where they are. We have been and continue to investigate. There are quite a few homes and we want to do it properly.”

DiCarlo said the system worked the way it is supposed to and that every municipality builds sewer systems to a 1:100 year storm standard. Storm totals “far exceeded” the 1:100 year standard, he said, and that there is no municipal system that could have handled that amount of rain that quickly.

DiCarlo also encouraged people to take part in the subsidy program, noting that some of the issues could have been avoided. New builds do not connect downspouts to the storm sewers and also have backflow valves, with DiCarlo adding that other residents are able to access the program.

For those residents who haven’t already reported flooding problems from the Oct. 6 storm to the town, they are asked to call the public works department at 519-736-3664.

Town council formally decides what to do with Belle Vue

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg purchased Belle Vue in 2016 and now they’ve decided what to do with it.

Town council decided to use it as a conference centre and wedding venue as part of last Tuesday night’s meeting. Councillor Diane Pouget declared conflict of interest due to the proximity of her home to the site while Councillor Jason Lavigne cited the proximity of his parents’ home as his reason for declaring conflict.

Councillor Rick Fryer had questions over maintenance for the property but CAO John Miceli noted the only real issues at this point is grass cutting. Maintenance for future issues like the botanical gardens are budgetary matters for down the road, but the Dalhousie St. property has to be developed first.

Use of taxpayer money was of concern to Councillor Leo Meloche, who wanted to ensure that no taxpayer money be committed for any work, repairs or restoration work without specific council approval identifiable to the project or undertaking. Meloche said council has to be aware of all repairs being done and not find out afterward that additional work is required.

Town council has formally decided the Belle Vue will be used as a conference centre and wedding venue.

Miceli said the town received grant money that was specifically earmarked for the roof project and debated with Meloche about whether that was taxpayer money.

Meloche added that the town has to “protect the asset” but at the same time, ensure there is financial accountability in place.

Treasurer Justin Rousseau stated that none of the work that has been done at the Belle Vue property happened before council was informed. Miceli added that “anyone suggesting we have not been transparent is more than welcome to look at the books.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the motion at hand was not to approve any funding for Belle Vue, but to assist with fundraising.

“We have had interest in fundraising with big numbers,” said DiCarlo, adding that potential donors want to know what will be happening with the site before committing any dollars to it.

“There shouldn’t be any concerns about money,” he said. “It will come before council.”

Changes necessary to Belle Vue roof project, CAO says project still underbudget

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has been advised of changes to the roof restoration project at Belle Vue that will cost an additional $111,400 plus HST.

However, the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO) says that despite the extra costs, the project still remains underbudget.

According to a report from treasurer Justin Rousseau, town council approved $325,000 in the 2018 capital budget for the project, $250,000 of which is to be funded from donations. The roof was identified as the top priority in restoring the 200-year-old Dalhousie St. mansion.

“During the construction phase of the project, additional structural issues have been identified and change orders have been requested,” Rousseau’s report stated.

Work began in the summer of 2018 and administration was presented “with a series of issues” that consultant ERA Architects Inc. identified during construction.

“The issues they identified would have not been known at the time of tender as the initial scope of the work was determined based on a non-invasive review of the structure,” Rousseau stated in his report.

The additional issues include sill beam repair and replacement, soffit replacement, eave components, fascia mounted copper gutters, face nailing detail, in-laid gutter supports, brick pier rebuilding and eve painting.

Rousseau noted that the town received confirmation from Parks Canada’s National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places that the town was approved for support up to $100,000 for improvements to Belle Vue and that the grant was applied for by the town “to help offset the cost of construction and further the cause of the restoration efforts.”

Change orders to the Belle Vue roof replacement project sparked a recent debate at town council. (Photo courtesy of the Belle Vue Conservancy Facebook page)

“The 2018 capital budget includes $325,000 for the Belle Vue restoration project. Project funding is based on receipt of $250,000 from donations and the balance from the general tax levy,” Rousseau stated in his report. “However, the budget did not account for the additional grant revenue of $100,000. These grant funds will be used to help offset the additional unexpected cost from the change orders being recommended by ERA Architects Ltd.”

Councillor Leo Meloche said he “thought this might happen” and wondered how much tax money would be spent on the project.

CAO John Miceli pointed out that the original budget was for $325,000 but now they have received a $100,000 grant. The total cost of the project is now estimated at $396,760 but Miceli said they now have $425,000 set aside thanks to the grant.

“We are still underbudget with the grant funding,” said the CAO.

Miceli noted there were items that need repairing that were hidden below the soffit and that efforts are being made to restore the soffit to its original condition.  Meloche said he disagreed with the approach taken, believing that a more invasive investigation should have been done on Belle Vue to get the full picture on what was needed to repair the roof.

Meloche also questioned why the repairs to the town-owned building still weren’t subject to review by the town’s heritage committee. Meloche is the council representative on that committee and questioned whether the town was “skirting our own rules but not getting the heritage committee involved” in the matter.

“Any homeowner has to come before us and get an approval,” said Meloche.

Councillor Rick Fryer opposed the town spending more money on Belle Vue, saying road projects such as Angstrom Cr. need it more.

“People drive on roads every day,” said Fryer.

Miceli noted that town council had already approved the budget for Belle Vue.

“If you are asking me to reallocate money from Belle Vue to Angstrom Cr., that’s a different situation,” said Miceli.