Up in arms
Carbonear residents petition council to have vacant lot cleaned up
Residents of Hoyles Road, an upscale neighbourhood in the northeast section of Carbonear, are up in arms.
The condition of a vacant property smack in the middle of the street has the residents seeing red. Crab pots, a small trailer loaded with more crab pots, fish boxes and wood ( longers and brush) are among the items stored on the vacant lot at 30-32 Hoyles Road.
John Bishop, a retired RCMP officer and his wife, Donna live at 26-28 Hoyles Road, right next door and just to the west of the vacant lot.
From their sunroom and back patio the Bishops have a clear view of the vacant lot, and they don’t appreciate the view.
As far as we’re concerned, “it’s an eyesore,” John Bishop told The Compass during a recent visit to their home.
“ We can’t enjoy our sunroom and we’ve stopped having friends over for barbecues,” Bishop says, adding his wife is “extremely upset and devastated” by this.
There are 24-25 homes in the Hoyles Road area, and Bishop estimates most of them would be valued in the $ 200,000 to $ 300,000 range.
One of the residents’ biggest concerns is that the condition of the vacant lot is depreciating their property values.
Some 98 per cent of the area residents signed a petition, which was presented to the Carbonear Town Council last month, asking council to order the owner to clean up his property.
Bishop feels that’s “ pretty strong support” for their cause.
Petition calls for action
The petition calls upon the mayor and councillors to “ take immediate action and order the owner of the vacant land. . . between 26-28 Hoyles Road (property of the Bishops) and 34 Hoyles Road ( property of Lewis and O’Keefe) to immediately remove the large fish containers, crab pots and other articles from the land and clean up the land of the cut down trees and bushes left in piles around the property, as this material is causing a fire hazard.”
The petition goes on to state: “All of those materials are adversely affecting the real estate value of the surrounding properties and is directly interfering with the lawful use and enjoyment of those prop-
The petitioners asked council to “advise the owner of the vacant lot that he cannot use this vacant land as a storage site.”
Council ordered the property owner to clean up the property, giving him 14 days to comply with the order.
The owner has appealed the town’s order to the Eastern Newfoundland Regional Appeal Board. The board was set up to hear such appeals for the Department of Municipal Affairs Engineering and Land Use Planning Division.
In a letter to council co-signed by John Bishop and Ben Lewis, who lives on the other side of the vacant property (34 Hoyles Road) the residents said they expected the town, “ notwithstanding Mr. Forward’s appeal of your order, to immediately act in the best interest of the majority of the residents and protect their properties and remove the fishing gear etc. per the Municipalities Act.”
Town Administrator Cynthia Davis explained, “no further action can be taken by council until the Appeal Board hears the appeal.” According to the public notice of appeal, which appeared in the Aug. 31 issue of The Compass, the appeal “will be heard in the near future.”
Other than that, Davis says she hasn’t heard if any date has been set for the appeal hearing.
Mayor Sam Slade told The Compass he understands “Mr. Bishop and Mr. Lewis are very upset” by the situation.
While the landowner’s appeal of council’s order has effectively delayed any further action on council’s part, pending the outcome of the board’s hearing, Mayor Slade said, “people use their right to appeal, and they have that right to do so.”
Reiterating, “ it’s not that we’re ignoring the people of Hoyles Road,” Slade said, “actually we made a decision in their favour.” In response to their concerns, “ we (council) took the position we wouldn’t allow it (storage of equipment on the vacant lot) and issued an order to have it removed.” The landowner appealed, “and that’s where it’s to now.” Until the board rules, the mayor said, “our hands are kind of tied.”
Jim Forward, who owns the vacant lot was out shrimp fishing last week and was therefore unavailable for comment before The Compass deadline. have the property cleaned up under the Fire Prevention Act.
Bishop says he has “nothing in the world against the gentleman,” who has the items stored on his lot. “ We just want him to do the right thing, show some respect ( for the residents who live on the street) and find another place for it.”
Bishop says when the owner first told him of his intentions for the lot last spring, he attempted to reach town officials but got no response.
He says he didn’t know anything further until he returned from vacation in May to find the lot cleared and turned into what he calls a “parking lot.” The next thing he knew the fishing equipment and wood appeared on the lot.
Bishop says he was told the equipment was stored there because it is a more secure place for it than the fishermen’s wharf off Water Street.
Bishop can’t follow that logic. The retired RCMP officer points out: “ That’s what we have police for. That’s what we have courts for and that’s what we have insurance for.” Because it is located in a high profile area with more traffic and visibility to the public, he doesn’t understand what makes the Water Street location less secure than a vacant lot in a quiet neighbourhood like Hoyles Road.
At a time when mega projects like the Long Harbour nickel project are moving into high gear, towns like Carbonear claim they are doing all they can to attract new residential development.
Bishop says if the gentleman wins his appeal of council’s order and the town allows him to continue to store such objects on his property, the move would set a precedent that would send the wrong message to attract prospective new taxpayers wanting to “drop anchor in Carbonear.”