Get your home off the road, says council

Property owner forced to remove house sitting on road allowance - for last 70 years

By Barb McKay

A McDonald Avenue property owner will be forced to either tear down her home or move it farther back on the property before the municipality takes on a road re-alignment project next year.

For nearly 70 years, the home at 954 McDonald Ave. has been sitting entirely on the municipal road allowance. But it wasn’t until just recently, when the Municipality of Kincardine began making plans to reconstruct and re-align the intersection of McDonald and Broadway Street that it became a cause of concern.

According to municipal records, in 1950 the owner at the time moved a farm house into town and placed it on the property in question without a survey. In 1969, the town became aware that a survey had not been completed and had one done. It discovered that the house was on the road allowance. In 1986, town council passed a motion instructing the new owner to remove the home. The owner submitted an application for licence of occupation that same year, but it was denied by council.

In 1987, council passed a resolution based on a recommendation from the town’s public works department to enter into an encroachment agreement with the property owners, but there is no municipal record to show that an encroachment agreement was ever signed.

The current property owner is 94 years old and has owned the property and the adjacent property for the past 30 years, and is in the process of trying to sell it. The house is currently being rented out.

The property owner’s realtor Vicki Farrell attended last Wednesday’s Municipality of Kincardine’s planning meeting and said it is understandable that the municipality would want to correct past surveying mistakes, but it leaves her client in a difficult situation. She said there are buyers interested in the home and she would like to know what recourse her client has.

“I thought we’d better find out before someone buys a house they can’t live in.”

Farrell said the owner has been paying property taxes on the assessed value for the past 30 years. Now, if she is forced to take the house down, the property value will decrease. The assessed value of the home is $133,800 and it would cost at least $50,000 to move the home back on the property. Farrell said she believes other properties on McDonald Avenue also encroach on the road allowance.

“I know this has to be fixed but there has to be some empathy because this will come up with other properties,” she said.

Councillor Laura Haight said council is not without empathy, but while other properties might be close to the road, this particular property is entirely on the road allowance and the property owner should have been aware of that. She said the owner could look into merging the two properties to create a larger vacant lot or move the home back farther on the lots. Building and Planning Director Michele Barr added that a minor variance application could be submitted.

Council passed a resolution that states that the property owner must remove the home from the road allowance prior to the sale or before June 1, 2018, whichever comes first. Councillor Laura Haight suggested that the municipality check with Fire Chief Kent Padfield about using the home for a fire training house as a possible solution.