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Mississippi Mills asking choose to declare homebuilder a ‘vexatious’ litigant in decade-long dispute over industrial land


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The billboards posted alongside March Highway main into the quaint mill city of Almonte appear nearly too good to be true.

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Brylin Properties is promoting reasonably priced townhouse items beginning at $299,900 with the designs that includes full flooring plans and photographs of mannequin properties with names just like the “Goldfinch” (two-bedroom bungalow), the “Blue Jay” and the deluxe “Killdeer” mannequin, boasting three bedrooms, two storeys, a storage and solar energy.

The Killdeer billboard comes with the engaging tagline: “Use your labour for down cost!”

Bother is, neither Brylin Properties nor its proprietor, Bryant Cougle, have the township’s blessing to rezone the economic lands right into a cut up residential and business sector, as Cougle’s designs would demand.

A collection of long-running disputes between Cougle and the municipality of Mississippi Mills have trudged their manner by municipal land tribunals, small claims courts, the Ontario Municipal Board, and at last elevating to Superior Court docket when the township’s attorneys served Cougle discover of a “vexatious litigant” lawsuit in February.

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Mississippi Mills is at the moment engaged in the same however separate civil lawsuit towards one other man, Steve Maynard, a former mayoral candidate who the township can also be in search of to have the courts model as “vexatious.”

Mississippi Mills officers — and Maynard — are at the moment awaiting a choose’s resolution on whether or not that case can proceed in Superior Court docket.

Maynard has argued to dismiss the township’s case towards him as a so-called SLAPP (strategic lawsuit towards public participation) designed to silence public dissent.

The township’s vexatious litigant software towards Cougle, nonetheless, is an altogether totally different story.

The courtroom filings element protracted authorized wrangling over the event of Cougle’s land, starting together with his preliminary software in January 2010, and shortly escalating into — within the phrases of township attorneys — “a regarding sample of vexatious conduct.”

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Cougle already owns 22 acres of the economic land on the west aspect of County Highway 29 in Almonte, simply across the spot the place Hope Road ends.

He’s tendered a suggestion to purchase a partition of the adjoining municipal property for the sum of 1 greenback. The land — 35 acres at the moment getting used as a part of the wastewater remedy plant — is central to his plan.

And Cougle has grand plans.

He envisions a 48-unit motel with a small service mall and a espresso store going through onto the principle street, whereas extending Hope Road to department out into a fancy of reasonably priced multi-unit dwellings, all to be constructed round an indoor pool, spa and health centre.

“The demand is unbelievable… I’ve 300 tenants all lined up and able to go,” Cougle says throughout a latest tour of the positioning. “Some have waited for over 9, ten years to purchase a house. I’ve inspired my events to contact the city, and that’s what they’ve accomplished…

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“We’re in a disaster right here,” Cougle says. “We want reasonably priced housing. And my tenants don’t wish to hire. They wish to personal a house.”

A key sticking level in Cougle’s plan, from the township’s perspective, is the proximity to the water remedy facility. His proposal would require two of the 5 ponds to be drained, however he claims city council imposed a 500-metre setback, or “buffer” space across the facility in 2014, which now impacts his property.

Cougle says the lagoons may be drained and stuffed over, and he comes armed with an inventory of different municipalities which have adopted the identical course.

However based on Mississippi Mills Mayor Christa Lowry — and as outlined within the township’s lawsuit — municipal officers met with Cougle years in the past to debate the required environmental evaluation, and have but to see any significant research or supporting documentation for such an endeavor.

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“Anybody proposing improvement inside the buffer space or adjoining to a landfill or wastewater remedy facility should present supporting research to find out the impression of the proposed improvement on these kinds of services,” Lowry stated. “That is good planning observe and, frankly, frequent sense once we are discussing residential improvement specifically.

“Whereas Mr. Cougle was made conscious of the required research a number of years in the past, he has failed to offer any documentation that speaks to those points.”

Cougle countered by saying he did have a phase-one environmental web site evaluation accomplished by Paterson Group in Might 2011.

In response to the report submitted by Paterson Group, the native consulting engineering agency concluded {that a} phase-two environmental evaluation was wanted.

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Cougle carried out that work himself, digging up samples and sending them away for laboratory testing.

“They got here again with zero air pollution,” Cougle stated in an interview.

Cougle stated the municipality allowed one other building firm to construct a house inside that 500-metre buffer, and believes he’s being unfairly excluded.

“It’s simply me,” Cougle stated. “They’ll work with different builders. It’s simply that they don’t like me, they don’t wish to work with me.”

Court docket paperwork filed by the municipality in February illustrate a decade-long chronology of litigation over the property by numerous ranges of courts and tribunals. The municipality is now in search of to have each Cougle and his building enterprise, Brylin Properties, declared vexatious litigants.

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The city’s software file contains quite a few reveals, most of them emails from Cougle through the years containing a litany of allegations, from his accusations of “protecting up fraud,” to “allegations of conspiracy” towards him, to “quite a few allegations of bribery… (and) of obstruction of justice.”

Township attorneys deny any wrongdoing within the software, and are in search of a judicial order that might bar Cougle or his enterprise from pursuing any additional litigation with out first acquiring permission from a choose.

Cougle and Brylin Properties, based on the township’s lawsuit, have commenced “quite a few claims and functions in Superior Court docket, Small Claims Court docket and earlier than different administrative our bodies towards the municipality and its workers of their particular person and personal capacities, all of which have been discontinued or dismissed with prices payable to the municipality.”

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Cougle and Brylin have “regularly (sought) to re-litigate the identical problem or points,” and have initiated “an extreme variety of proceedings containing disparaging allegations which are with out advantage,” the assertion of declare reads.

The municipality “fears (Cougle) will proceed to pursue them legally as an improper response to a perceived undesired judicial end result.”

Together with dozens of Cougle’s emails filed as reveals, the municipality’s case additionally depends on an in depth affidavit sworn by the township’s chief administrative officer, Ken Kelly.

Kelly swore the same affidavit within the municipality’s ongoing lawsuit towards Maynard.

In response to Kelly’s affidavit, Cougle first utilized to change his property’s zoning from industrial to residential in September 2010. That software was shortly denied on the premise that Cougle had “failed to finish the requisite background research,” the lawsuit reads.

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“Since then, Mr. Cougle has developed a regarding sample of litigious motion and vexatious conduct in direction of the municipality. Mr. Cougle has repeatedly written and said that his points with the municipality arose in 1976.”

Cougle has additionally alleged that municipal workers have, for the previous 46 years, “been concerned in perpetrating after which protecting up numerous frauds and conspiracies concentrating on Mr. Cougle.”

Cougle’s appeals towards the township have been heard on the Ontario Municipal Board, then in small claims courtroom in 2012 with two claims that have been dismissed, then elevated to a civil lawsuit in 2018 the place Cougle sought $8.2 million in punitive damages from the township.

Cougle “pleaded the identical details” in every motion, based on the township’s lawsuit. “Particularly, that the municipality and its workers have been engaged in a ‘conspiracy’ towards Mr. Cougle and his improvement plans.”

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It value the municipality at the least $10,500 in authorized charges to defend that lawsuit, which was ultimately settled with prices awarded to Mississippi Mills.

In response to the township’s latest lawsuit, the municipality “agreed to droop its assortment of those prices on the understanding that Mr. Cougle wouldn’t begin additional claims towards the municipality or its workers on the identical details… However the phrases of the (settlement), Mr. Cougle commenced two additional actions towards the municipality in 2019 on the identical details, this time utilizing his company, Brylin Development Ltd., as a litigation automobile.”

The affidavit from Kelly goes on to chronicle dozens of courtroom actions and appeals Cougle has launched within the years since, and particulars the quite a few letters Cougle despatched to municipal workers with “allegations of obstruction of justice, perjury, and bribery towards (Kelly) and a number of other different municipal workers.”

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It additionally accommodates letters Cougle despatched to Premier Doug Ford in 2020, “demanding” the provincial officers “direct the municipality to reverse its zoning,” and in search of the premier’s “intervention” within the affair.

The affidavit additionally particulars a letter Cougle despatched to a number of municipal workers in July 2020, “advising that he can be in search of to ‘prosecute’ the municipality criminally.”

Kelly says in his affidavit that he believes Cougle “is abusing the courtroom system and is systematically utilizing it to threaten and intimidate individuals with frivolous and vexatious lawsuits.”

Kelly additional says that Cougle’s claims are “retributive reactions to a perceived undesired planning end result.

“They don’t seem to be critical or reliable claims that should be earlier than the courtroom, notably since these similar claims have been disposed of by the courtroom in Mr. Cougle’s 2012, 2018, and 2019 actions.”

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As for Cougle’s issues over the provision of reasonably priced housing in Almonte, Mayor Lowry stated Mississippi Mills is already taking a “proactive” strategy.

Lowry stated she performs an energetic function on the Affiliation of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and on the Rural Ontario Municipal Affiliation (ROMA) boards, and represents rural Japanese Ontario on two reasonably priced housing activity forces.

City council accredited seven initiatives earlier this yr, Lowry stated, “to assist take away limitations to reasonably priced housing improvement, improve housing inventory and cut back the upfront prices.”

These initiatives embrace exemptions on allow charges for not-for-profit housing developments and an reasonably priced housing grant program.

“Inexpensive housing is one thing the municipality has been working to deal with,” Lowry stated, and the municipal authorities “has taken a proactive strategy to assist the event of each market and not-for-profit reasonably priced housing in our group.”

ahelmer@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/helmera

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