Re: Proposed Lippa Pit and Quarry - Pre-Hearing Conference Information
As you are aware from my previous communications on this topic, Frank Lippa is seeking an Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment to allow a 54.8 hectare (135.4 acres) quarry, with an extraction area of 26.4 hectares (65.2 acres), in the vicinity of Butler Mill Road and Aspdin Road, less than 2 kilometers from Skeleton Lake.
The purpose of this letter is to give you further information about the upcoming February 21, 2018 OMB Pre-Hearing Conference ("PHC") to be held at the Municipal Office, 1 Bailey Street, Port Carling commencing at 10 a.m. The information that follows has been provided by SLCO's counsel, Donnelly Law.
The primary reason for the PHC is to determine whether Mr. Lippa and his consulting team are ready to proceed to a hearing; i.e. are all his studies and reports completed. If so, the OMB Board Member may ask parties to settle on available dates for a hearing. If Mr. Lippa is not "ready to go", then he will ask the Board for a second PHC, likely three or four months from now.
Setting a date for a hearing is greatly dependent on the duration anticipated. A hearing of a few days can be scheduled in the next few months; longer hearings are being scheduled later this year. We anticipate that approximately three weeks is needed for the Lippa hearing, which means that the first available dates for a hearing will likely be 9-12 months from now.
If a hearing date is set, the parties will then agree on dates to exchange witness lists, witness statements and reply statements, and visual exhibits. These exchanges normally occur approximately three months prior to the hearing date.
At the PHC, the SLCO and the Township of Muskoka Lakes will be seeking "party" status. A party must demonstrate that it has some interest in the proceedings (e.g. property ownership, concern for the environment) and must have communicated with Council regarding the application (e.g. attended Council's meeting and vote on June 10, 2017). If party status is granted (which is likely), SLCO will have the right to call expert evidence, cross-examine Lippa's witnesses, and make closing arguments.
Citizens who wish to have "party" status should be prepared to call expert evidence on any issue that they raise; if the citizen plans to give evidence him/herself ("lay witness"), it is preferable he/she have recognized credentials which qualify them to give evidence on that issue. Parties that call lay witness evidence only and do not assist the Board may be liable for costs. Citizens who do not have the credentials to be a witness, but who wish to participate by giving a short statement, can alternatively ask for "participant" status. SLCO will assist participants by drafting a Participant Statement which anyone who is opposed to the quarry can sign and submit.
The onus to prove the quarry represents good planning and will not adversely impact the environment rests with Mr. Lippa. It is his lawyer's responsibility to provide the issues his consultants will be addressing at the hearing. Anyone wishing to seek party or participant status should come to the PHC with a rough outline of their issues; e.g. noise, dust, water quality, traffic safety, etc. Expert witnesses will not be called at the PHC.
SLCO will be contacting Mr. Lippa's lawyer to ascertain whether a hearing date will be sought at the PHC, or whether this PHC is just a status update. I will advise you of the response we receive. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
Scott May, President
Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization
c: 416 559 2839