Editor's note: the following article was also published in the Sept. 18, 2012 print edition of The Compass
A frustrated Clarke's Beach town council voted 4-1 last week to proceed with legal action against the owner of a controversial RV park, arguing that Ernie Mugford has failed to live up to the terms of an expansion that took place in 2011.
MountainView Trailer Park has been at the centre of an ongoing and sometimes nasty dispute between Mugford and some residents of Park Avenue, which borders the campground.
Members of council have asserted that Mugford has not installed a suitable buffer along Park Avenue, and that he has not acted on repeated attempts by the town to address the situation.
Councillors used words such as "sad" and "unsightly" to describe the buffer, with Coun. Garry Bendell expressing "sympathy" for residents of Park Avenue.
"We have only one recourse," added Coun. Roland Andrews.
"The legal route is the only one I see that is left," noted Mayor Betty Moore.
According to the approval granted by council, the park owner is required to create a buffer "not less than 10 metres depth located on the property and planted with trees and shrubs of sufficient height and density, approved by the town, to be visually effective in screening the development from neighbouring residents and/or ... a privacy fence at least 2.4 metres in height ..."
Bendell said the current buffer is "not even close" to what council requires, and that Mugford has missed deadlines to have the work completed.
The only dissenting voice was Coun. Eldon Snow, who argued that council is expecting too much. Snow also criticized his fellow councillors for refusing to grant Mugford an opportunity to address council.
However, Mayor Moore said unless Mugford has a "new issue," he will not be allowed to speak.
Attempts to contact Mugford on Friday were unsuccessful.
The matter was one of several contentious issues discussed by council during what was another tense and acrimonious meeting on Monday, Sept. 10.
A recent decision by council to purchase land on the waterfront also fuelled some debate. The land is located on the waterfront, adjacent to the cenotaph and across the street from the municipal building.
Council voted 5-0 during a hastily called meeting on Monday, Aug. 6 - the town's civic holiday - to approve the spending of $40,000 for the purchase of the property. One of the ideas floated by council is to relocate the old railway station building to the site and convert it into a museum
The decision has sparked some debate in the town, with a handful of residents attending last week's meeting expressing concern. Mayor Moore and Coun. David Moore Jr. have also spoken out against the purchase.
Several outstanding issues are now being addressed by the town's legal counsel, and the purchase could be formalized during the next council meeting.
The ongoing dispute between a high-profile property owner and the town also remains unresolved, with council failing to reach a consensus on whether to allow Robert Humber, a medical doctor, to address the group.
Humber is accusing the town of illegally removing fill that belonged to him in order to fill in The Glam, a small pond adjacent to the town's public works building.
In an unusual turn-of-events, an RCMP officer looking into the file requested that council consider a meeting with Humber. But with the threat of legal action hanging over the whole dispute, some councillors felt a meeting would be unwise.
Humber has, on several occasions, asked for a meeting with council.
Councillors are split on the issue, with some saying they should "sit and listen," while others suggest the town should seek its own legal advice.
Meanwhile, council approved the spending of up to $2,000 for the purchase of additional fill to level off "soft spots" in The Glam, further exceeding the $10,000 originally budgetted for the project.
Several hundred loads of earth have been dumped at the site.
A variety of other issues were also debated, including potential flooding problems, animal control, improvements to the cenotaph, air quality in the town hall, property assessments, and the future of the Winter Home, which is a registered heritage strucure.
Deputy Mayor Kevin Hussey and Coun. David Moore Jr. were not present at the meeting.