Castor town council says encroaching flower beds, sheds must be moved

Correction (Sept. 22, 2020 at 11:51 a.m.) : A mistake appeared in a Town of Castor council story in the Sept. 10 edition of the ECA Review. In the story about Laurie Charpentier’s encroaching house, the last sentence should read, “Councillors passed a motion that Charpentier’s gravel driveway and steps on public property can stay, but the trees, flower beds, dirt piles and shed all have to be moved back onto her own property.” Our apologies for any confusion this caused.

Steps which are part of Laurie Charpentier’s residence are encroaching on public property, heard Castor town council Aug. 24. ECA Review/Submitted

Town of Castor council decided elements of a private residence standing on public property must be moved. 

The decision was made at the Aug. 24 regular meeting of council which was available via social media to meet pandemic guidelines.

Laurie Charpentier’s residence, located at 5214 48th Street in Castor, is encroaching on public property it was noted in the agenda meeting package. 

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee stated Charpentier was notified of the problems.

“It has been brought to the town’s attention that you are currently encroaching on Townland with items, listed below, up to thirty-eight (38) feet,” stated Robblee’s letter to Charpentier. 

The list of encroachments included two “flower gardens” on both the NW and NE sides of Charpentier’s property line, three trees at… your side and rear property lines, one children’s play structure, one garden shed, as it is currently not wholly and completely within your designated property, and excess debris, construction piles and dirt piles.”

Photographs of the encroachment were also shown, including one showing the house’s roof overhanging the property line and a step also over the property line.

Charpentier appeared at the meeting to speak to councillors. She was hoping council would waive the encroachment rules and noted that the right-of-way , or undeveloped road allowance, running along her property is not used. 

“Is it possible I can keep what I have existing?” Charpentier asked councillors.

She stated the lot her house sits on is triangular and was difficult to fit a house on, with virtually no backyard.

Charpentier stated she thought she had a verbal agreement with the town allowing the encroachment as long as the right of way was not being used as a road.

She noted when she bought the lot she wasn’t aware of exactly where the property line was but did know later when the house was built.

After Charpentier completed her presentation, councillors debated the encroachment. 

CAO Robblee noted this issue was brought to the town by a complaint from a neighbour.

Robblee said, the CAO can allow simple encroachments such as a flower box but not in such a way as to turn the right of way into a yard. 

“More than half of the road is being encroached upon,” said Robblee.

The CAO also noted the “no-fly zone” as helicopters go over that road allowance.

Robblee also provided a copy of a letter he previously wrote to Charpentier regarding requests she made for encroachment. 

In the letter, which was included in the agenda package, Robblee noted storage sheds are not allowed in front yards in Castor and private storage sheds are not allowed on public property either. 

He noted, however, he did give permission for one tree on public property.

As councils discussed the issue, the topic of precedent was mentioned several times; that is, if council allows this encroachment, in effect it allows other people to do the same thing all over town. 

Plus, it was mentioned that if town staff need to use the right of way, they shouldn’t have to move playground sets out of the way.

It was also mentioned, however, that Charpentier has offered to care for the encroachments and the public can still access the right of way any time.

Councillors passed a motion that Charpentier’s gravel driveway and steps on public property can stay, but the trees, flower beds, dirt piles, shed and step all have to be moved back onto her own property.

 

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.

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