Maxwell’s hit with delays
“I feel personally that we’re being bullied.”
These words were said by Paul Maxwell, the owner of Maxwell’s Music House, who had planned to expand his live music venue into Dooly’s pool hall located on University Ave..
This was until a public appeal delayed his ambition.
It started in June of 2013, when Maxwell had approached the Waterloo City Council asking permission to rezone his future location from industrial use to commercial entertainment.
“The City unanimously approved our re-zoning request,” Maxwell said. “All of that was passed. Then, there was a public appeal process.”
Maxwell explained to The Cord that despite municipal approval, any public member can object to a new business if there are just grounds. And in the case of Maxwell’s Music House, a neighbouring property group, Lexington Park Real Estate, Inc., had appealed the project based on parking and environmental concerns.
“Both of which were addressed and waived at the council level,” Maxwell pointed out. “We’ve done our research, we have more than enough parking, and have looked into contamination in this area.”
Lexington Park Real Estate, Inc. is the property owner of many plazas and social hotspots encircling Laurier’s campus. This includes the Crabby Joe’s plaza adjacent to where Maxwell plans to set up his new concert venue.
“They own tons and tons of property in Waterloo,” said Maxwell.
The main concern issued in the appeal questioned whether Maxwell’s Music House had the appropriate amount of parking available for the amounts of people that the venue may bring in. There was a fear that there would be an overflow of cars in a parking lot that did not belong to Maxwell’s property.
“We did a transportation study and we worked with a professional company in town,” Maxwell said. “They compared us to Revolution Night Club [now called Pearl] because it’s the closest entertainment facility to us [and] the closest proximity in size.”
Based on the traffic that Pearl nightclub receives, Maxwell is required to have 204 parking spaces to accommodate peak times.
“Our site plan shows 237 spaces,” Maxwell said.
Regardless, any appeal made at a municipal level must be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) for an official court ruling.
Karen Kotzen, a communications consultant, spoke on behalf of the OMB, explaining their involvement in the case.
“[Our] processes are designed to resolve disputes in an informal, less costly and more timely manner than in the [judicial] courts,” she explained. “After an OMB matter is closed, it is then up to the municipality to enforce its own bylaws.”
The OMB hearing is tentatively scheduled for December, pushing the conversion of the pool hall back by several months.
However, the City of Waterloo has showed overwhelming support toward both Maxwell and his expenditure, providing up to $20,000 for legal fees.
“This took me by surprise,” Maxwell admitted. “We’ve always known that the mayor and councilmen are very supportive. [But] this just shows that the city really want to push arts and culture.”
Lexington Park Real Estate, Inc., declined to speak on the matter when The Cord requested an interview.
As for Maxwell, he explained that his biggest disappointment of the matter was the amount of jobs and revenue potentially being lost in this delay, estimated at around $250,000.
“A word to the wise for students who want to become entrepreneurs,” he said. “Things aren’t as cookie cutter as you plan in your business plan.”