Tony Mormino is taking the District of Sooke to court over his inability to access Sooke Road from his seven-acre property.
Back in 2009 Mormino announced his plans to build a $60-million condo development with 150 units, a landmark project expected to modernize the skyline and create 100 jobs while pumping $15-million into the local economy.
That was then. Now Mormino is taking the district to court because he states he is land-locked with no access to Sooke Road and no access at all unless he comes up with the money it would take to build a road off the parking lot at SEAPARC. This is an expensive option, estimated at $650,000, which Mormino says he doesn’t want to take.
The district is asking him to build the new road off Capital Regional District land to city standards, and the CRD wants a compensation package which includes providing lighting for the ball fields, construction a concession stand and paving the museum parking lot.
“They’ve already drained me,” he said.
Mormino said the district reneged on an verbal agreement. At first he was only interested in building 30 units until, he alleges the Director of Planning at the time, Marlaina Elliott, convinced him to rezone and go for the higher density. But problems soon surfaced. The Ministry of Highways would not allow more traffic onto Sooke Road and there was no other access available. Mormino said he understood that the district would allow him access to Drennan Street either by agreement or expropriation. The owners of the abutting properties said ‘no.’
“All we need is 20 feet of driveway, it’s a very insignificant amount,” said Mormino. My property is landlocked, I signed a covenant with the Ministry of Transport because I was told I would get access off Drennan.”
Elliott has claimed she would never have promised access.
Mormino is suing the District of Sooke for the cost of the property, ($3 million) improvements already made on the property, studies, expenses and damages, bringing his claim to over $3.6-million.
He said he would rather walk through fire than sue the district but they landlocked him.
“It’s been dead in the water for three-and-a-half years. There’s no settlement, no offer, all they’ve been doing is stalling.”
Mormino also has issue with Councillor Sheila Beech, whom he says was in a conflict of interest situation when the development proposal went before council in 2007. Beech lives on Drennan.
The District of Sooke’s CAO Evan Parliament stated that they could not comment on the case as it was before the courts, insurance company and lawyers.
The case is in the discovery state presently and it is expected to go to the courts in January, 2012.