ERIN – Erin’s mayor is refuting claims by a community organization that anything “fishy” went on in regards to the land transfer at the site of the upcoming wastewater treatment plant.
The Coalition for the West Credit River, which represents various groups opposed to Erin’s wastewater treatment plant, in a press release raised an issue with the Town of Erin purchasing land for $2 when it was valued at $210,000.
Environmental lawyer David Donnelly said this brings a number of questions and the community should ask for an explanation from mayor Allan Alls.
“When you pay $2 for a piece of extremely valuable land it leads, correctly in my opinion, to the suspicion that there is a quid pro quo deal here or that this is a gift,” Donnelly said in the press release.
In a phone interview, Alls explained this was a simple transfer of land agreement from Solmar Development Inc. and the $2 was more symbolic as a transfer of money is legally necessary.
“The transfer of this property was a commitment from Solmar, I believe as early as 2010, and is meant to expedite the building of the wastewater plant in the interest of addressing the economic future growth of this town,” Alls said.
Solmar is a real estate development company involved in building a large subdivision, which includes well over 1,000 housing units, in the northeast corner of Erin Village.
Alls stressed there was no deal made and Solmar owner Benny Marotta had won a case at LPAT over that proposal.
“He’s going to be developing, we don’t have much control over that now, that’s part of what the LPAT agreement is,” Alls said. “We do have control over where and when the wastewater plant is built.”
The coalition’s press release also alleged work had been done on a greenbelt forest area near the land causing damage to a brook trout nursery stream.
Alls said this is a piece of private property and agricultural uses are permitted on it based on their zoning maps.
“The work that was done on the land was by a farmer who attempted to increase the farmable acreage,” Alls said. “If there is any damage done outside the farmland, then the owner will be required to remediate the land that is not within the farmable area. However this is a private land, and there hasn’t been any contravention of any town bylaws.”
Alls said he believes the opposition groups are grasping at what they can to “shoot at me or shoot at the council.”