Report from the Sherwood Forest School Site Group

Report of Sherwood Forest School Site Group, January 2013

Update of work to date

None of the public bodies are willing to buy the property. We have approached the city, UWO (via the Centre for Activity in Aging), and the French Public Board without success. There also was no funding support from the Province or the city for a Sustainable Energy Centre.

The Thames Valley Board has told us that it will follow the process outlined in Regulation 444/98 for disposing of the Sherwood Forest P.S. property. This means that the private schools interested in the property will either have to bid for the site when it becomes available or convince the city or one of the public bodies to buy it for them.

We are still unclear if a local improvement special charge can be levied on properties in Sherwood Forest (likely spread over 10 years) so that the City can buy the land for a public park. Under this arrangement the taxpayers in Sherwood Forest would pay the cost of acquiring the land and the City would have to agree to maintain it. This option protects all of the green space which was the direction from the community last spring. It remains the preferred option. There has been no reply from City legal staff to a city council resolution regarding the use of local improvements for this purpose. In addition, we still have no support from city staff for the site to be parkland.

ACTION: Review the city’s process for requesting a local improvement and will prepare a request to submit to the city. If we are turned down by city staff, the next step will be to appear before a committee of Council on the matter to attempt to get the report from legal staff submitted to Council.

If there is no purchase by the city or another public body, the property goes on the open market through the Board’s process. This starts with a sealed bid. It is expected that there will be great interest from the development community in the site. The form of development could range from 17-22 single family homes with up to 1 hectare of green space being retained, to as many as 80 townhouse/condo type units with no green space left. Any development proposal would take from 18 months to two years before groundbreaking occurs. This is because there are a number of steps required including a rezoning application.

As development of the site is a strong possibility, the group agreed that the community presentation at the Ratepayers’ Annual General Meeting (AGM) should:
– include showing attendees what a single family development could look like and;
– explain that there are two possible ways the site could be developed for custom built, single family lots.
– show what a 80 unit townhouse/condo type development could look like

1. By working with the development community, get agreement from a developer to create single family lots (approx 45’ x 100’) that retains some green space. In return, subject to confirmation at the Ratepayer AGM where this is presented, there would be no appeals to the OMB by the Ratepayers and support for the proposal would be communicated to city staff and Council.

2. By creating a new legal entity, led by community members, investors would be approached to invest in a single family development on the site (the number of investors would have to be 50 or less due to securities law). While not all investors would necessarily be residents of the area, the intent is that the guiding force (officers) of this new organization would be area residents. Although no angel investor has come forward, it is hoped at the meeting sufficient interest would be expressed to get enough seed money to pay for the preparation of the legal necessities (incorporation, shareholder agreement, etc). It is anticipated that $3 million dollars would need to be raised to pay for the purchase of the site and development costs, although at least part of this amount could be a mortgage.

It was noted that this legal entity could also rent the building and site to a private school, but that the return on investment would be much longer than the development option.

ACTION: It was agreed to get an estimate of what a builder might pay for a serviced lot.

It was agreed that any direct approaches to developers would wait until after the upcoming Ratepayer AGM.

It was also agreed that additional steps to form a new entity for the purposes of buying and developing the site will wait until after the AGM.

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