A judge has ruled that a $3 million luxury home in Quebec, Canada, built less than a decade ago, must be demolished — and the local city will have to pay for it.
The ruling is the latest in a roughly eight-year legal saga that began when the house was built too close to the street and violated local zoning laws in the town of Gatineau.
The judge’s decision lifts an exemption the city has given the homeowner in an effort to preserve the mansion as it is.
In his ruling this week, Quebec Supreme Court judge Michel Deniel said owner Patrick Molla had every reason to believe his home met building codes when the city granted him building permits in May 2013. Canadian press reported.
In September, however, the city discovered that the planning officer who approved the permits had made a mistake when they allowed construction of the house, about 7 meters from the street, to proceed. According to local ordinances, houses must be built at least 51 meters from the street.
Construction officials in the town of Gatineau made a mistake when they approved building plans for Molla’s house (pictured) and later tried to exempt him. Judge’s ruling nullifies that exemption, saying it was abuse of power
Not only does the house have to come down, but the city will have to pay for it
The $3 million mansion that homeowner Patrick Molla (pictured) built about eight years ago is to be demolished because it’s too close to the street, a Quebec Supreme Court judge ruled this week
Instead of telling Molla to stop building the house, the city allowed it to go ahead and tell him the problem would be solved. In February 2014, Molla’s family moved into the house, and in July 2014 they granted him a “minor exemption” to keep it in order.
Deniel’s ruling cancels Gatineau’s exemption, saying there was probably little choice but to abort it.
He sided with neighbors who complained that the property didn’t fit in with the rest of the neighborhood, arguing that the city’s exemption was an illegal abuse of power.
“Had he known the risk of demolition, he would not have gone ahead with the construction of Moll on September 25, 2013,,” Deniel said in his statement.
“To reassure him about this technical error that will be corrected by a small waiver at the expense of the city, he continues to invest his ‘retirement fund’ in his house to the tune of approximately $3 million.”
The city had asked the court not to order the destruction of the house, but Deniel noted that it had not offered any alternatives.
The street is 7 meters from the street. Homes must be built at least 51 feet from the street according to local ordinances
The judge noted that city officials gave Molla false hope by saying construction on his house could go ahead. Molla is suing the city separately for $3.6 million
Sebastien Gelineau, a lawyer representing neighbors who had complained, said his clients are satisfied. “They are happy with the decision,” he told the Canadian Press in an email. “They ask that their privacy be respected.”
“I understand the frustration when this was built, but after such a long time I also feel sorry for the owner,” a neighbor told Claudine Gagnon. CTV News.
“Nobody was happy when it was built, so when it comes down I’d think there are a few people here who are a little more than happy,” another neighbor Mike Beard.
Separately, in 2019, Molla filed a lawsuit against Gatineau for $3.6 million in damages, saying city officials misled him and aware of the potential consequences if they allowed construction to go ahead.
It wants to recover $2.9 million in construction costs, as well as more than $600,000 for reputational damage and inconvenience to Molla’s family.
In that lawsuit, Gatineau argued that the subcontractors Molla had hired were responsible for the error of not taking local ordinances into account in the construction plans. The results of that suit are pending.
Molla’s lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.
Gatineau has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
“Our legal department is in the process of analyzing everything, so there will be no comments on the file,” the city told the Canadian Press.