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Council Upsets Top Developer, Denies Refund on Development Charges

Bill Van Haeren left city council Thursday night visibly upset. City Council denied a refund on $225,000 in development charges on the addition to Oxford Gardens retirement home. Van Haeren declined to comment after the decision, but did confirm to Heart FM that they planned to take the city to the Ontario Municipal Board over the issue. In an interview earlier in the week with Heart FM, Van Haeren said the charges came as a surprise to him. "It totally came out of nothing. We went down and picked up our building permit and they asked us for a cheque for the development charges. It was a total surprise to us. The second largest surprise was the size of the development charges. They classify it as full residential. Most municipalities have a retirement home classification and they run typically one-third of residential charges." Oxford Gardens is currently undergoing an 84-room expansion on Deveonshire Ave., (pictured on right) which got underway last year. Van Haeren said the charges did cause a delay to the start of the project. "It set us back financially, obviously. Time wise it didn't set us back much...it was a couple of weeks delay in getting the building permit because of funding the development charges." On Thursday night, during a hearing on the matter, councillor Deb Tait motioned to get council to grant a refund, which lost 5-2. "We got two legal opinions. We got his legal opinion, we've got our legal opinion, and I think we have to make a decision and I think we have to look like we're being fair." Van Haeren took possession of the property from Oxford County, which was the former Woodingford Lodge site. At some point along the way, the rules on the property were changed. That also intersected with a delay in the building of the new Woodingford Lodge, and Van Haeren taking possession of the property from the County later than initially expected, leading to a confusing set of timelines. Tait says, "It wasn't his fault he got possession of the property when he did, because of the county and they needed it longer, so I think he's correct." Van Haeren is also fighting with the County over their development charges on the property. The charges total $461,000.

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