Property cleanup dispute settled
Carbonear fisherman ordered to remove material from his property
Residents of Hoyles Road in Carbonear are pleased the Eastern Newfoundland Regional Appeal Board has dismissed an appeal by a Carbonear fisherman and upheld a town council order to remove fishing gear and other materials from his property at 30-32 Hoyles Road.
The appeal board reached its decision at a hearing in St. John’s Sept. 8, more than a year after fisherman Jim Forward filed his appeal on July 26, 2010 contesting council’s decision.
Speaking on behalf of the Hoyles Road residents who had petitioned council last year to have the property cleaned up, John Bishop, who lives next door to the Forward property, told The Compass last week they were “content with the ruling.”
The issue first came to public attention late last summer when The Compass reported the residents were upset over crab pots, fish boxes, and wood, among other materials being stored on a vacant lot in their residential area.
Calling it “an eyesore,” residents complained the material was also causing a fire hazard.
They argued the materials were “adversely affecting the real estate value of surrounding properties and directly interfering with the lawful use of and enjoyment of those properties.”
Some 98 per cent of the residents signed a petition to the Carbonear town council, asking the town to order the owner to clean up his property.
In their letter to council last summer, residents stated they expected the town, “notwithstanding Mr. Forward’s appeal … 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.”
Council’s hands tied
At the time residents were told, “no further action can be taken by council until the appeal board hears the appeal.”
The public notice of appeal, which appeared in the Aug. 21, 2010 Compass stated, the appeal, “will be heard in the near future.”
Almost a year and a half after the material first appeared on the property, Bishop observed, “it took a long time ( to have it removed). The bureaucracy moves slowly.”
Forward told The Compass last week he had decided not to appeal the board’s ruling to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. “ That’s as far as I’m going to go with it.”
Now that the board has dismissed his appeal, Forward said he “just wants to end the controversy. I’m not one to be fighting and growling with anyone,” he said.
By Sept. 26, Forward had removed all the material from the property except one crab pot and some floats.
“If they grumbles about that, I’ll take it away,” he said. The residents may do just that. Suggesting he (Forward) has to abide by the (appeal board) ruling, John Bishop said, “I hope Mr. Forward will obey the order and if he doesn’t, the town will enforce it. If not, our lawyer will ensure the order is enforced,” he added.
No hard feelings
Bishop maintains he bears “ no animosity towards Mr. Forward. I don’t even know the man. But we have a right to protect our own property and anyone in our position would have done the same thing.”
Now that the ruling has been made, Bishop said, “we want to make sure it is enforced and it doesn’t happen again.”
As far as he and the other residents are concerned, Bishop said they don’t feel they should have had to go to the expense of retaining legal counsel to get some action on having the property cleaned up.
“ We shouldn’t have had to spend money to defend our rights, but we had no choice when the town didn’t act,” he said. “ We thought they (council) would have had him remove it.”
The solicitor for the property owners had written letters to council on their behalf as well as representing them at the recent hearing.
Had the decision gone the other way, it would have set a precedent that would have given residents the green light to store whatever they want, wherever they want, as long it’s on their own property, said Bishop. But Jim Forward has a different view. “If a fisherman is not permitted to store his own fishing gear on his own property,” Forward said he has some “real concerns for the future of a fishery, that is already dying every day. If we’re being denied that, if it’s coming to that, where is our fishery going?”
This crab pot filled with floats is all that remains of the fishing gear once stored on Jim Forward’s property on Hoyles Road in Carbonear. All other materials were removed last month after the Eastern Regional Appeal Board dismissed Forward’s appeal of an earlier council order to have the materials removed.