Norfolk County has shared a reminder that developers are responsible for performing due diligence on their land and that any oversights in this area are at their expense.
Norfolk council was responding on Oct. 12 to a deputation from developer Angelo Cappucci. Cappucci, who recently acquired the former Kinsmen parking lot in Delhi at 161 Wellington Ave.
Cappucci told council he intends to build an 18-unit residential complex on the property. However, he said soft soil was discovered on site that will cost a substantial amount to remediate.
“We’re looking at a $120,000 cost,” he said. “What we’re looking for is some help from council. We’re asking for some consideration on giving us a break on development charges and rezoning fees so we can move forward as quickly as possible. The wheels are in motion and we’d like to get a shovel in the ground.”
Cappucci noted he was aware of the soil issue before the land was purchased, just not the extent of it.
Mayor Kristal Chopp told Cappucci there are a number of problems with his request and suggested the developer is looking for a subsidy from the taxpayer. But Cappucci said that is not so; that he was looking for help from the municipality.
“The taxpayers fund the county,” Chopp replied. “Somebody’s got to pay for it. Norfolk County doesn’t generate funds on its own. To me, this is a pretty big ask. I don’t know how one would justify that.”
Chopp said the request also raises legal issues. In Ontario, it is illegal for municipalities to provide incentives or subsidies to private, for-profit entities. The practice is known as “bonusing” and is forbidden by law.
“I didn’t think I was stepping offside,” Cappucci said. “If I’m stepping over legal bounds, I apologize. That was never my intent.”
Norfolk CAO Al Meneses spoke up when Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus suggested Cappucci submit his engineering reports to Norfolk public works for a review.
“I’d be hesitant to dedicate staff resources to this,” Meneses said. “The point is quite reasonable: This is a for-profit enterprise. Yes, we’d love the housing. Yes, we’d love the growth. But I’m fearful that – if we’re looking to subsidize this development – that we’re getting into some very grey areas.
“I’d recommend council not explore this at this time. I’d be hesitant for staff to spend any time on this file, to be honest with you.”
Chopp agreed, saying staff time in this direction would be “foolish.”
Council received Cappucci’s deputation as information and moved on.