Wells, Amherst going to court over Charles Street property

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Town wants it demolished as dangerous and unsightly

Amherst and Walter Wells are set to go to court over a Charles Street property the town considers dangerous and unsightly.

This property on Charles Street is the subject of a court battle between the Town of Amherst and Walter Wells. The town has ordered the property to be demolished by July 12. Wells is asking the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to quash the order.

AMHERST – An Amherst property owner is taking the town to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to stop it from demolishing a building he owns on Charles Street.

Walter Wells’ application for an order staying the enforcement of the town’s demolition decision will be heard on Thursday.

In his application to court, Well’s lawyer Jim O’Neill said the town violated provisions of the Municipal Government Act in that its order didn’t indicate the remedial action that was required.

An order from the town requires the property to be demolished by July 12. After that date, the town can have the demolition completed and billed against the property.

O’Neill said his client also feels the town acted “unreasonably” in making its decision to demolish the building and thereby acted without jurisdiction and lacked lawful authority.

In his affidavit Wells says the property, at 12 and 14 Charles St., was bought by his father in 1954 and he has owned it since his father died in 1984.

Wells says he has strong emotional attachment to the property, adding “the happiest years, and perhaps only really happy years of my life were spent in that property raising my children.”

While the property has been vacant for several years, Wells says in his statement that he intends to fix it up to preserve it for the future – even if he doesn’t reside in the building himself.

Wells says the town provided his lawyer with notice on June 12 that it was denying his appeal of the planning and advisory committee’s decision to have the building demolished.

He said he was provided with no indication as to what is required to remedy the situation and he has hired a contractor, who had already begun to repair the property prior to his appeal.

Wells says in his affidavit that the property did not present a danger because the windows and doors were boarded up, the debris had been removed and the roof had been sealed to prevent water from entering the property.

“The work on the property has been ongoing and it continues so as to bring the house up to appropriate standards,” Wells said in his statement to the court.

He said no monetary award of damages could compensate for the emotional trauma he would suffer if the house is demolished.

Wells owns several properties in town including the former Riddles lounge on Station Street as well as homes on Spring Street and East Victoria.

Several years ago, he went to court to stop the Municipality of Cumberland from demolishing the former Chignecto Motel in Fort Lawrence. Wells eventually made the necessary repairs and that building is still standing.

Town CAO Greg Herrett declined to comment on the matter while it’s before the court.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

 

 

Organizations: Supreme Court

Geographic location: Charles Street, Nova Scotia, East Victoria Cumberland Fort Lawrence

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Recent comments

  • Dee from Cumberland
    July 11, 2014 - 10:24

    Mr Wells is a visionary, hard worker and has the good sense to maintain this beautiful older home. With a shift in time and demographics, having roots in one place is almost a thing of the past. Mr Wells is well within his rights, keeps the tax base healthy, has a team of able men to do the repairs in timely fashion and I trust he will enjoy his family home the rest of his life. Please ..... let the seniors be.....!!!

  • Daisymae
    July 11, 2014 - 08:47

    I hope they tear down the place. I also hope they tear down his other properties too. We need more PARKS.

  • Kimberley
    July 10, 2014 - 10:29

    Emotional attachment or sentimental memories will not win over government! In fact if the government want to take the property from someone they can! They will offer to purchase but if they don't get you to comply they will and can take it from you! So in fact property owners are not really property owners are they?

  • Kimberley
    July 10, 2014 - 10:28

    Emotional attachment or sentimental memories will not win over government! In fact if the government want to take the property from someone they can! They will offer to purchase but if they don't get you to comply they will and can take it from you! So in fact property owners are not really property owners are they?

  • Kimberley
    July 10, 2014 - 10:27

    Emotional attachment or sentimental memories will not win over government! In fact if the government want to take the property from someone they can! They will offer to purchase but if they don't get you to comply they will and can take it from you! So in fact property owners are not really property owners are they?

  • Nelson Purdy
    July 08, 2014 - 16:19

    This old house is a joke , and I am another sucker who has to live beside it. Walter Wells will not doing anything with this house except put a bandaid on it and call it good. It is just a matter of time before some child gets injured playing around one of his many run down properties. If the Town of Amherst doesn't win this case against Mr Wells , that will be an injustice to all home owners in Amherst.

  • Andrew Wallis
    July 08, 2014 - 16:09

    Walter Wells , you are a joke and so are the alleged repairs on this property. The staging has been up for over 14 years, and I'd be happy to testify against you in supreme court as you attempt to spout off about improving and residing in that piece of trash. Good for the town to take a stand and good for the neighbourhood when it comes down!!

  • noodle
    July 08, 2014 - 15:35

    Damn shame. This is what happens when a hoarder has too much money. Millions of people are living in abject poverty and this guy can't get past his own emotional "needs" enough to tear down dangerous and unsightly buildings. No doubt he'll waste countless thousands of dollars fighting for his right to keep making a mess whenever and wherever he sees fit because he believes it somehow fills whatever emotional gap is keeping him from being whole. Might try spending a few bucks on counselling to see what exactly it is that has been missing from his life.

  • TJR
    July 08, 2014 - 15:08

    How hard would it be to pass a bylaw that unoccupied residential properties be inspected by a bylaw officer every 5 years, and serious cases checked by the Fire Dept. and a building inspector. All at the cost of the home owner. The number of derelict owners in this area obscene. Especially with the rental market here in Town. I spent 40 years in Toronto, and the prices for what generally could be called subpar rentals here in Amherst, is 3/4 of the cost of what I could find in Toronto.

  • DK
    July 08, 2014 - 15:03

    the house is in terrible disrepair and certainly needs to be dealt with. If the property is that important to you then you wouldn't have let it turn into such a mess. You don't see it everyday we do every time we drive down the street. Take a picture of that dump with the camera you run around snapping at everyone on " your" property aka Charles street and knock it down!!

  • HOARDER
    July 08, 2014 - 09:56

    HOARDER

  • more of the same
    July 08, 2014 - 09:51

    Walter will win this battle . Absolutely nothing unsightly about the property . It is neat and cared for . He has strong emotional attachment to the home and property which is permissible under Canadian Law . He has a good lawyer , resources to fight for his civil , charter and property rights .......Many of us have told Walter he could do different things with his properties , create jobs , and increase cash flow . He doesn't need to and chooses not to so it is what it is ...The Town is just wasting tax money here . If the Town finally gets the building torn down ( highly unlikely ) after spending a wack of money , it will lose again from the decreased tax assessment on the property ....

  • atleastilivehere
    July 08, 2014 - 09:29

    I agree that it is time for the Town of Amherst to deal with the over whelming number of unsightly homes and properties around town, but they should do it fairly. There are more then just Wells properties that are unsightly, including ones owned by the Town it self. The town has a hired unsightly premise officer who spends more time harassing people for one silly bag of garbage that a crow picked open then actually doing something about the rising amount of unsightly homes. He also seems to have a way of missing the unsightly properties owned by members of counsel. So really I do agree with the demolishing of the Charles St building, but I hope that maybe the town will go after everyone and not just single out people they've had problems with before.

  • LD
    July 08, 2014 - 08:47

    Mr. Wells is never going to clean up this property. I have lived near that property for almost 10 years and he has never done anything other than securing the property. Hopefully the courts will not believe his statement that he is going to repair the property. Most of the properties he owns are just storage for his tonnes of junk! I am pleased that the Town is not backing down this time. I'd say go after the rest of his run-down buildings now!

  • DK
    July 08, 2014 - 06:50

    the house is in terrible disrepair and certainly needs to be delt with.If the property is that important to you then you wouldn't have let it turn into such a mess.You don't see it everyday we do every time we drive down the street.Take a picture of that dump with the camera you run around snapping at everyone on " your" property aka Charles street and knock it down!!

  • Valerie trumble
    July 08, 2014 - 06:21

    About time town of Amherst. These abandoned houses are a terrible eyesore and potentially dangerous. This property has been a hangout for kids and stray cats, and did in fact sustain fire damage a few years back when kids set the back porch on fire ( also damaging neighbouring property, namely mine) boarding up the windows only adds to the abandoned and derelict look of the house and lessens the property value of the entire neighbourhood ( yes me again) Don't let the scaffolding fool you. It's a common feature ( along with pigeons) on other abandoned properties in town. I'm totally behind the town on this issue.

  • Valerie trumble
    July 08, 2014 - 06:20

    About time town of Amherst. These abandoned houses are a terrible eyesore and potentially dangerous. This property has been a hangout for kids and stray cats, and did in fact sustain fire damage a few years back when kids set the back porch on fire ( also damaging neighbouring property, namely mine) boarding up the windows only adds to the abandoned and derelict look of the house and lessens the property value of the entire neighbourhood ( yes me again) Don't let the scaffolding fool you. It's a common feature ( along with pigeons) on other abandoned properties in town. I'm totally behind the town on this issue.

  • Jack on the Rocks
    July 08, 2014 - 05:37

    "The property has been vacant for several years"..I would say so...nobody lived in that hosue when I went to high school..and that was 25 years ago...sure he's going to fix it up....kind of like the 69 Firebird that sat in the yard with grass growing up through thew floors...another senseless waste...Knock it down.....

  • Ian
    July 07, 2014 - 22:43

    Get real Walter. Those "gonna fix it up" comments are the copy paste of every argument you've ever had to the Town attempting to clean up your trash collections. I hope after the Town wrecks you in court that they get an injunction to both disallow you from further property purchases, and clean up the rest of this mess.

  • Al
    July 07, 2014 - 22:00

    It's about time the Town of Amherst got serious about unsitely houses. For those who have lived in other parts of Canada, it's just pathetic to come home and see third generation welfare residents with no hope in their faces, no goals, no jobs, living in dumps. Shame on those who let Amherst degenerate into this 3rd world condition!

  • Cleanupyourjunk
    July 07, 2014 - 21:17

    I am tired of looking at the buildings owned by this individual. Everyone of them could be used for something more useful than storing junk and softening the blow when tax season rolls around. I understand that hard working people have the right to own property and use it how they see fit but that's why municipalities have bylaws. If you don't like the rules, go somewhere else and slum it up. It's brutal

  • Cumberland
    July 07, 2014 - 21:08

    Mr. Wells also owns property in Maccan which is in need of serious repairs (former Maccan United Church).