Not so neigh­bourly

Dis­pute over park­ing of bus drives wedge be­tween prop­erty own­ers; town says noth­ing it can do

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS

A dis­pute be­tween two neigh­bours in Car­bon­ear that has sim­mered be­neath the sur­face for months has bub­bled over, with both sides now openly trad­ing in­sults and ac­cu­sa­tions over the park­ing of a full-sized school bus in a pri­vate drive­way, on a res­i­den­tial street.

Caught in the mid­dle is the Town of Car­bon­ear, with of­fi­cials say­ing there’s very lit­tle they can do to fix the sit­u­a­tion un­der the cur­rent by­laws.

Af­ter many months of lob­by­ing mem­bers of coun­cil, writ­ing politi­cians at all lev­els and qui­etly try­ing to find a res­o­lu­tion, the own­ers of No. 12 Park Av­enue, Randy and Daphne Pike, con­tacted The Com­pass last week in what they as­sert was a last-ditch ef­fort to bring at­ten­tion to their com­plaint.

They say the noise and ex­haust from a bus that parks less than 10 feet from their home is mak­ing their lives un­bear­able, and they dread the start of a new school year be­cause the sit­u­a­tion will only get worse.

They say the noise of the diesel en­gine idling in the morn­ing pre­vents them from sleep­ing, and they have to turn off their air ex­changer nightly be­cause ex­haust from the ve­hi­cle cir­cu­lates through their house.

“I did not want to go pub­lic with this, but if the coun­cil is not will­ing to do any­thing, this is my only op­tion,” Randy said last week.

They are so frus­trated that they are be­gin­ning to re­gret mov­ing to the neigh­bour­hood.

“If some­one of­fered me a good chunk of change for this house, I’d be gone,” Randy added.

But their neigh­bour and the man who drives the bus, Rex Vaters, makes no apolo­gies, and has lit­tle sym­pa­thy. He con­tends the Pikes agreed to let him park the bus in his drive­way, and charges that the Pikes are com­plain­ers. If they don’t like it, they should move, Vaters stated.

He said the bus is “no louder than a pickup” and desribed Pike as “just one of those guys.”

Town of­fi­cials say Vaters is not break­ing any mu­nic­i­pal by­laws. Coun­cil passed a new park­ing of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles by­law in 2009, but it does not per­tain to buses, said town ad­min­is­tra­tor Cyn­thia Davis.

“ Those reg­u­la­tions only re­fer to ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als, such as an oil truck,” said Davis.

Davis noted that staff and mem­bers of coun­cil have done a “ fair amount of re­view and in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into the mat­ter, but have to con­sider the best in­ter­est of the en­tire com­mu­nity.

“ There’s other neigh­bour­hoods in town where you do have a num­ber of peo­ple ... That’s their job. They do park the bus in their drive­way, and those neigh­bours don’t have a con­cern with it.

“So we have to look at the whole sit­u­a­tion, be­cause once a reg­u­la­tion is brought in, it can’t be brought in for one par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­ual. It would have to ap­ply to the town as a whole.”

Vaters has been park­ing the bus in his drive­way for sev­eral years, and the Pikes say their pa­tience with the sit­u­a­tion has slowly eroded.

Randy said dis­cus­sions with his neigh­bour have been “ heated” at times, and he sug­gested Vaters was be­ing un­rea­son­able. He said the com­pany that owns the bus is lo­cated less than a kilo­me­tre away, and Vaters could sim­ply park his bus there.

Randy is a for­mer mem­ber of the Cana­dian Forces who spent 25 years in the ser­vice. He was med­i­cally dis­charged five years ago, and de­cided to move back to his home­town and build a house on fam­ily land.

Randy and his wife both have health is­sues, and fear the ex­haust spew­ing from the bus may be harm­ful.

And he’s less than happy with the treat­ment he’s re­ceived from the town.

Randy charged that if a mem­ber of the coun­cil were in his sit­u­a­tion, or if this same sce­nario was play­ing out in a more af­flu­ent neigh­bour­hood, some­thing would have been done.

“ We have no im­pact on the com­mu­nity. We’re just re­tired peo­ple who moved here,” Randy stated.

They were ad­vised by of­fi­cials with Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs that their only op­tion may be le­gal ac­tion. But they’ve ruled that out, say­ing they are on a fixed in­come and do not be­lieve it should be nec­es­sary.

Randy said that dur­ing the school year, Vaters starts the bus at about 7:15 each morn­ing, and lets it idle for “15 or 20 min­utes.” Vaters agreed re­cently to pull the bus ahead af­ter start­ing it, but it’s not a so­lu­tion, Randy said.

“ It’s like a truck com­ing through your house,” said Randy.

Asked why he needs to park the bus in his drive­way, Vaters replied: “It’s con­ve­nient.”

He ex­plained that his wife uses their only ve­hi­cle for work, and “I’m not go­ing to walk back and forth up there and get soak­ing wet just to sat­isfy this guy.”

Vaters said his pre­vi­ous bus was very loud, but ex­plained he now drives a new one that is qui­eter and cleaner.

Vaters said Pike has also com­plained about other is­sues, and he has tried his best to be cour­te­ous and ac­com­mo­dat­ing.

“ This is the men­tal­ity I have to deal with,” Vaters said.

Pike, mean­while, said there’s a clause in the home-based busi­ness by­law that coun­cil could use to solve the dis­pute. It states that ac­tiv­i­ties that in­con­ve­nience or cause nui­sance to the neigh­bour­ing prop­erty own­ers are not per­mit­ted. The by­law also states that com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles with a pay­load ca­pac­ity of no greater than two tonnes will be per­mit­ted on a lot.

“ They’re be­ing pur­posely eva­sive. They do not want to ad­dress this is­sue be­cause there are so many more sim­i­lar ex­am­ples of this in the town,” Randy said.

Mayor Sam Slade could not be reached for com­ment Fri­day.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Randy and Daphne Pike of Car­bon­ear say they are fed up with their neigh­bour, who con­tin­ues to park a full-sized school bus in his drive­way.

Randy and Daphne Pike.

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