Muskoka Post Staff
Adam Kitchener posted the following update on Gravenhurst’s social media today outlining his zoning battle with the Town of Gravenhurst.
*after sending this email and requesting a response 3 times with no response I'll post it here*
Mayor Paul Kelly
This is a formal request to inquire why your town zoning department failed to investigate the use of 280 Bishop St prior to my ownership.
Since 1970s, 280 Bishop St has operated as a 4plex, as owned by Thomas Stanley Stephens. It was sold 3 times, once to Paul Ostrander in 2003, Maurizio Mastrander in 2014 and finally to myself in 2019.
I have attached 3 signed Affadavits showing the use was a 4plex. I have also attached a copy of the permits that have been filed, providing evidence that it was used as a residential property.
I have also attached the Fire Order from Breyan Sinnott, identifying the property as a 4plex. Below is a link to the article also identifing the unit as a 4plex.
and I have also attached the GeoWarehouse document showing its a 4plex.
I also have correspondence with the town, including from previous owners. Also backing up that they were made aware of its use.
Now, your town is trying to state that the building is zoned Highway Commercial, which doesn't even allow residential use nor allow 8 families to live there.
We have established that not only has the property been used for the last 49 years as a 4plex, but that the town was made aware of it as early as 1972.
Even if they wish to deny 1972, they surely can not deny the fact that they knew a property zoned as Highway Commercial, was being used in a residential fashion as early as 1975 as the owner converted the second floor into an apartment.
Records continue to show that many by-law officers were at the property for many occasions and inquiries to its use were made on purchase as to its use.
In October 2019, the town was YET AGAIN made aware that the property was used as a 4plex, as the fire order, news report and even your staff can confirm.
When I purchased the property in April of 2020, It had a fire order, unsafe living conditions, walls made of bristol board, and 8 people living inside.
You can not tell me your town was not aware of its operation, yet nothing regarding zoning or its use was brought up.
It was not until I submitted my drawings, showing extensive renovations that not only improved the property with new electrical, plumbing, foundation and heating/ac systems, but also went above and beyond to address safety, was the matter of its legal use brought up.
Since 1972, your town was made well aware of its use, understood that it was a 4plex and did absolutely nothing until my drawings were submitted in April 2020. That is 48 years of inaction. 48 years where your residents were allowed to live in a commercial building that was unsafe, and unfit for human habitation.
The furnace used a dryer vent to heat the home. There was an electrical cord running from 1 apartment, through a wall to another apartment. There was insufficient heat in the home during the winter. The back extension has no footings.
I was willing to not only fix this home, make it safe, but also make it affordable. I wanted to rebuild this very clearly a 4plex, into 4 self sustainable highly desired, very much needed apartments in your town.
Your zoning department's lack of action, constitutes that it was an acceptable use. Their negligence not only put 8 lives in danger, but also shows that the town accepted that it was willing to let 280 Bishop St be used as a 4plex and let it do so up until June 2020.
What if that building burned down?
As a result of the town's negligence, failure, lack of action and full knowledge of its operation for a full 48 years, I am requesting (kindly) that the town accept that it overlooked this property and allow me to operate the property as it has been for 48 years. I am not increasing, decreasing or even changing its use. I am asking for my right to operate the property in the same way that the previous 3 owners operated the property, and work with the fire department to make it safer.
Rezoning the property is not something I will do, and I should not have to do.
The town doesn't even know the right use for the property. Your zoning office stated it's for Commercial use, yet all the evidence also provided points to the contrary.
How was the last guy able to get a permit for an apartment if its zone highway commercial (C2)?
You as the Mayor are standing in the way of peoples home. I have had 25 people reach out to me begging me to rent them an apartment at 280 Bishop street since I bought the property. (This is DESPITE the fact that the units are not marketed online, I am not advertising and not showing until they are safe)
Your constituents are so desperate for housing, that they are seeking me out themselves. Word is travelling through the town that 280 Bishop is sold to new owners and they are looking me up to find a home.
I am more than able, capable and willing to provide these people a home. I am not a developer building luxury apartments you dont need.
I do not have the time, the means or the money to rezone a property and fix the town's mistake.
Your town had 49 years to fix the zoning. (Is it commercial or residential? you tell me)
If this email goes nowhere, then I will have no choice but to sue the city and take this to all forms media so that the towns residents can see how poorly the zoning department failed to act on the safety of its residents for 49 years (especially after the fire in 2019) and how it failed to work with someone trying to solve a crisis in your town.