BAIE VERTE, NL — Property owners along Southshore Drive and Pioneer Avenue in Baie Verte can expect a bill from the town if they have sheds or other infrastructure located on land they do not own.
A public notice — pursuant to section 201.2 of the Municipalities Act — was issued on the town’s intent to sell backlands on the two streets in the trailer court area of the town. The town is charging 46 cents per square foot plus any associated legal and surveying costs.
Mayor Brandon Philpott said it is an action started by the previous council to correct the fact that the lots sold were only large enough to place a trailer on. However, property owners subsequently erected structures such as sheds at the rear of the properties on land they did not own the rights to.
“Some people have said they have agreements with the town to allow them to build something on town land,” Philpott said. “I haven’t seen anything in writing for that, but we are just trying to figure out a way to fix this.”
Holding the land at the rear of those properties has no value to the town, according to the mayor.
In many cases, current property owners are not the original owners. Some were not even aware they do not own the land the sheds are built on, the mayor said.
There have also been requests for similar developments on other properties.
“The town takes a lot of liability in allowing somebody to build something on town property,” Philpott said. “They are investing money in a piece of property that is essentially not theirs. That is not something we want to continue to do.”
The town has also been selling land in the area and the mayor says there can’t be infrastructure on somebody else’s land.
“We essentially applied for written permission. We followed all the guidelines of the Municipalities Act on how to properly dispose of land to try to address it, and we are going to try to extend the lots of the people that have the homes so that it can encompass their sheds,” Philpott said.
The mayor is hoping the property owners abide by the request to avoid any forced action.
It is not council’s intent to start tearing down sheds, he said. People are asked to come to the town office and register their interest to buy the property by Feb. 28.
The sale of backlands is intended to be as-square-as-possible parcels measuring 50 feet by 50 feet, with adjustments to unique dimensions of individual properties.
Anybody in this area with any form of fence or other structure encroaching on town land or easements will also be required to buy the land or remove the structure, according to the notice.
“We are not after it for the money, but trying to clean up the land issues,” said Philpott.
Early this week, the mayor said he wasn’t aware of any opposition to or criticism of the measure but said he would monitor the situation and request an update.
“I can’t really comment on what past councils have agreed to do, but it doesn’t really make it any more right,” he said. “All I can do is try to do it properly from now on.”