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Did The Town Get Hoodwinked For $140,000?

Did The Town Get Hoodwinked For $140,000?

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George Dixon
George Dixon

At Monday night’s Council meeting, George Dixon, a retired North York city solicitor and Aberdeen Blvd resident was on hand to answer questions stemming from his letter (below) where he alerts Council to what seems to be a slippery move by a developer that has resulted in the short-changing of local ratepayers of approximately $140,000 in unpaid development fees.

In his letter to council he outlines how the “builder of the Aberdeen duplexes came into the Planning and Building Services Department and applied to build a one unit detached house on one of the Aberdeen lots. The permit application was reviewed. The low density [development charge] was charged and a permit was issued for the house. A short time later the builder (Jennark) applied for another permit to include an additional dwelling unit in the house. This two-step with building permits was repeated nine more times resulting in under charges totaling $140,120 for the ten Aberdeen duplexes.”

Dixon goes on to say “The purpose of the two-step was plainly to try to save the builder $140,120 in [development charges] at the expense of the the public purse. And since [development charges] pay for actual growth-related costs incurred or to be incurred, anything the builder avoids paying has to be made up by Midland taxpayers.

However this happened, it is very unsettling for taxpayers and for every citizen who cares about local government. For taxpayers in the Tiffin area, it adds insult to injury because the Tiffin neighbourhood is the only place in Midland that has experienced any duplexes being built under the guise of secondary suites in houses.”

Dixon says it should be easy for the Town of Midland to right this wrong and says “All you need do is direct your staff to recalculate the [development charges] correctly for each of these ten duplexes. Send invoices for them and if the invoices are not paid promptly, add the unpaid amounts to the tax roll in accordance with the Development Charges Act and your DC By-law. ”

If the builder actually succeeded in pulling the wool over our eyes, we fully expect that Council will pursue the recovery of these funds and close whatever loophole allowed this to take place in the first place.

(543)

Comment(21)

  1. This is an interesting topic. The loss calculated, 140k is a perceived underpayment by the developers who built and sold 10 houses on Taylor drive. That development was almost stalled, those 10 houses would have not been constructed, in my opinion, without them being able to add secondary suites. Did we lose 140k on DCs because they are seen as duplexs by the Tiffin Homeowners Association, or did we gain DCs, and property taxes and 20 affordable apartments for our community and the money the new residents will spend within our community? Yours to decide.

  2. I spoke to this very issue at a public meeting a couple weeks ago. If this was trickery, and as you say, “working a loophole” then it needs to be remedied moving forward. Not sure if the town could go back on their own process without incurring a legal battle since they did approve it, presumably fully aware of what they were doing.

    I suggested that this is not likely in the spirit of the secondary suites bill and bylaw and that constraints should be explored to prevent a re-occurrence should this be found to be an abuse of process or truly a way to avoid paying DCs and maximizing profits.

  3. Was someone sleeping at the switch or what happened here? Thank you to an alert tax paper this now affords the town to correct this “error” and get the Midland taxpayer the money back. Secondary suites are not being allowed in homes from what I understand and there are many who would like to put them so this sounds like duplexes. Whichever way it cuts there needs to be an even playing field re secondary suites in Midland

  4. Noone was asleep. What happened was the developer, Jennark, purchased 10 homes on Taylor Dr. They then got secondary suite permits for the houses pre-build. This allowed them to add a second electrical meter and gas meter and to put in place all of the features that are required in order to have a secondary suite. This kept building costs down for the developer and provided opportunity for other demographics, such as myself, to be able to afford to live in a community which would otherwise be unobtainable. I understand the perception of foul play being that the permits were pulled pre-build but I do not agree with the mindset that these units have degraded the community in any way. Just my thoughts.

    1. I don’t think a secondary suite degrades any community but what’s good for the goose ought to be good for retrofits in the community if done appropriately. Why is there any question at a that the ratepayer lost 140k because of the way the process worked.

    2. Because the developer pulled the permit pre build. People are perceiving that as a bait and switch. The line between duplex and secondary suite is verry narrow.

    3. Well if it was prebuilt then I would agree with those of the opinion that it was a duplex. If you know upfront you are putting two in then it’s a duplex. If you have a house and are aging and need a secondary for financial or family reasons it’s a secondary suite and in my opinion in these economic times and diminishing affordable care for the baby boomers then it’s a no brainer grant the suites. Young people can move into a private area and help aging adults. Even on property granny flats. How many young people can afford the ridiculously high rents.

    4. I know what you mean, i understand the prebuild doesnt qualify arguement, but what if someone from the city wanted to take their elderly mother away from the city and build a house with a suite (granny suite, inlaw suite, secondary suite) to house both theirselves and their mothers within the same residence. Should they not be able to do that? I oppose red tape, if people want to move here I don’t think we should provide barriers that other communities in the province do not have. We need to make Midland a friendly place to grow. You mentioned young people, i’m a 29 year old with 2 full time jobs, born in the Midland hospital and this is the first and maybe last time I will ever have the opportunity to live on Aberdeen.

    5. Please note that Toronto is the only city in Ontario to my knowledge that restricts secondary suites. Toronto also restricted them prior to Bill 140 and in no way would I ever compare Toronto to Midland.

    6. Secondary suites need to be easily available and if rules are followed they can be quite safe and good for multi generational living. Our whole are needs to rethink secondary suites, granny flats etc. And do it soon.

  5. Cody, first of all it’s Aberdeen Blvd. not Taylor Dr.
    And no one is saying that these duplexes are degrading the community. It’s about the money that the town of Midland has missed out on.
    I think you need to read George Dixon’s letter again for some clarification.

  6. Mr. Cody, How can you write such an email? Firstly, Jennark purchased 10 lots NOT homes. Secondly, secondary suites do not have separate gas and hydro metres. Thirdly, this is not affordable housing or rental rates. The average rental rate in Midland is approximately $1000.00. These duplexes are renting from $1600 to $1800 per month each suite. Lastly…..these units have degraded the community by lowering the covenants; namely, Jennark construction used vinyl siding vs. Stucco, asphalt shingles vs. Composite roofing. Asphalt driveways vs. Interlocking. These are major changes in construction materials!!!!!!! Signed John Colussi

  7. This is a losing battle for me as it seems as though myself and the rest of council do not share a common view on this topic. Also, being it is in my ward, and a community that supported me in the last election, I am not doing myself any favors politically. Having said that…

    I will correct the street name and I apologize for the incorrect name and sale structure. Aside from that I do stand by my statement that Jennark did not underpay (my opinion). Similarly, if you decided today to add a secondary suite to your residence you would not have to pay more DCs because your property is now a “duplex”, it is a single family home that you modified to add a rental property, if you moved out and rented the other half as well it would be no different than the ones that were built by Jennark aside from the fact that you did it post build. Again, this is my opinion, an unpopular one, but it is mine.

    I apologize for the errors in my post, please let me know how you feel about my response. I look forward to the conversation.
    Cheers
    -Cody

  8. I do totally understand your position and that of the Tiffin Homeowners Association. I also accept your point that I was elected by you and your peers to represent your wishes. Having said that, and i’ll try and keep it short, I do not see the difference between what happened with Jennark and if you decided to do the same to your home, and then 9 other Aberdeen residents felt the need to do the same to their homes and move away and rent them out. The only difference is it was done very rapidly and 10 almost consecutive properties. If you did decide to do the same to your house you would have every right to do so and you would not be penalized by having to pay “duplex” dcs. I understand as well that these rental units are not affordable by definition, but they are now obtainable for people in my income bracket. I work full time as an electrician and Union vice president at TRW and then I have my council role as well. These incomes combined make it possible for me to rent a half of a house on Aberdeen, one of Midland’s most beautiful communities, that would otherwise be completely unobtainable. It is now affordable to me.

    I do see your stance and I totally understand it. I respect the THA for being so involved politically, political activism is one of the things that really inspire me. Unfortunately, we are not on the same side on this issue. I do feel that council will probably pass the 3 year rule, as much as I don’t support it, once the decision is made it is mine as well to own. We are a team at council and we will try and make the best decision for Midland, democracy is a beautiful thing. :).

    As always, feel free to share my stance with the community members, I hope that it does not impact the level of support I have received from THA as it is my opinion based on my moral compass. We have certainly worked together on almost every issue involving THA since I was elected, it feels uncomfortable on the outside of the popular opinion of the group who supported me whole heartedly during election, but I truly feel this is what is right for the entire town or I wouldn’t be sending this email.
    Thanks and feel free to keep the conversation going. I enjoy this topic and I do want you to understand my position and where it comes from.

    -Cody Oschefski

  9. Cody, can you specifically reply to the four items that I listed. Basically, metres, affordable houses and affordable rents and exterior building materials? John

  10. Many more comments below the story on our website… including some in-depth responses by Cody Oschefski. If this topic interests you – you may want to visit the full story online. Comments on the web story don’t get published back to facebook.

  11. 1) meters – anyone who chooses to add a secondary suite can add a second meter to monitor the usage of their renters, it is not cheap but it can be done. It is certainly within your rights to do it, John, as I understand you have a secondary suite within your house.

    2)affordable housing/rents – As someone born and raised in Midland, I have never been and will never be able to afford to live on Aberdeen. These secondary suites finally make it affordable for me to rent a half of a home so that I, a Midland working class young professional with 2 full time jobs, to live in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Midland.

    3)building materials – to my knowledge, the development’s building standards agreement has exired. Anyone building on Aberdeen can have vinyl siding, asphalt driveways etc. Secondary suites or not.

    I hope this answers all of your concerns.

  12. Thank you very much Cody for your reply to my concerns and we will further discuss these items when we get together.

  13. Cody,
    As someone who came from a background that provided me a lot less than you, rather than moan about my lot in life, I sacrificed, saved, worked hard and succeeded. I also drove many miles to and from work…….for years. It ain’t that tough. I am very disappointed to hear your stance. I voted for you……difficult to do so next time around. Good luck anyway.
    Peter

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Did The Town Get Hoodwinked For $140,000?

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