Court rules in favour of the county in unsightly property case

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
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TRURO - The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has ruled in favour of the County of Colchester in a civil suit over an unsightly property order.
Lower Onslow land owner Marion Usher and Percy Maine, who lives on a portion of her site, filed a $25,000 law suit against the county following the removal of some of Maine's property under a dangerous and unsightly premises order issued by the municipality.
Usher and Maine claimed wrongful removal of property after they determined the county went too far in its efforts to get rid of old mobile homes, parts and other items that the municipality had defined as "junk and debris." The county ordered a clean up after Maine failed to respond to an order to clean it up.
On the day in question, the RCMP removed Maine from the site during the clean up process because of threats he had made at a county council meeting that he would shoot anyone who came onto his property.
In a written decision released this week, Justice J.E. Scanlan said the county has "... proven on a balance of probabilities the premises were dangerous or unsightly and unsafe for children playing around the area and the claimants had not taken steps to clean up the premises..." in compliance with the Jan. 18, 2005 clean up order.
Scanlan was not as kind in his assessment of Usher's testimony regarding the types or value of property removed.
"I find the evidence of Ms. Usher weak at best, and totally unreliable in establishing there was on the property on June 8, 2005, the various frames shown on Ms. Usher's list, Exhibit #2, that she prepared from memory," the judge said. "There was no evidence that Ms. Usher obtained this information from Percy Maine; she had no photographs of the parts and frames; she had no invoices or other documents or papers to show these frame parts were on the property ...
"She stated she showed people around the yard, and helped Mr. Maine with paper work, but had none at trial and did not indicate she had proof of these elsewhere."
The cost of the cleanup came to $3,450, plus a tipping fee of $533.10, which will be applied to the owner's property taxes. Of that, $1,600.80 (the amount the county received for salvaging the steel it removed from the property) will be credited to the account. The county was also granted 15 per cent interest per year on the $2,350 it is owed, dating to June 8, 2005.

Organizations: Supreme Court, RCMP

Geographic location: Maine, Nova Scotia, Colchester

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