Wells, Amherst going to court over Charles Street property

Town wants it demolished as dangerous and unsightly

Darrell Cole webcomments@ngnews.ca
Published on July 7, 2014

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.

Darrell Cole - Cumberlandnewsnow.com

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

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