Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homeowner in bylaw battle over sign

TORONTO - Stefanos “Steve” Michelis and the city are embroiled in a sign war.

The homeowner and builder recognized the latest sign of trouble over his North York home Wednesday when a bylaw officer flashed a badge.

A City of Toronto letter served on Michelis was the second demand for removal of a “buyer beware” sign accusing a realtor and the former owner of selling an “unsafe and illegal” garage.

Michelis posted the sign after he was prevented from renovating his garage.

A city building inspector determined the structure’s footings and roof breached bylaw regulations.

“They’re denying me freedom of speech,” Michelis fumed outside the Wallingford Rd. home — purchased in 2009 for $550,000 — which is undergoing a $500,000 renovation.

Permits are required for temporary signs on private property other than for realty or election purposes, the bylaw officer said, adding: “Neighbours have complained.”

Michelis said in an interview that he applied to the city for a sign permit, but the application was turned down.

The 3.5-metre banner — transferred from the lawn to the garage entrance — names the previous owner plus realtor, Karen Millar.

In an interview, Millar strongly denied that anyone misled Michelis and his wife.

“I do believe in freedom of speech,” but the realtor said she was “sad” at the banner’s hurtful comments.

Saying she was merely the property’s listing agent, Millar said: “No matter how stellar your reputation is, it can be damaged.”

Calling the former owner — a senior — “an honest, caring, nice person,” she said: “I have no idea of what this is about.”

Lawyer Rob Moubarak, who was hired by Michelis’ wife, said proper inspections were never conducted.

In a letter last Sept. 14, the city advised that the only surviving records are a 1973 building permit, with no details of any inspections or problems.

Michelis’ wife has launched a lawsuit in connection with the issue.

Nothing has been proven in court.

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