Chester Basin property subject of public complaints operates within rules: municipality

by Keith Corcoran

Despite noise, nuisance and environmental-related complaints focused on Ricky Schnare's Chester Basin property, the Municipality of Chester recently concluded operations on his Highway 12 land aren't breaking any civic government rules.

While the property's use, activity, and appearance has changed in recent months, "there have been no known violations of any specific Municipal bylaws or policies," Chad Haughn, the municipality's development and recreation director, wrote in a report to council. The report was presented June 4.

"Within the letter of concern from residents, it was indicated that complaints about activity taking place at this property have been submitted to Motor Vehicle Inspection, RCMP, Tax Assessment and Nova Scotia Environment," Haughn's report explained. "If there are any violations pertaining to those authorities, it will be up to the property owner to address the issue with those respective authorities."

The staff report came after council received correspondence and a petition.

Brandon Smith reached out to civic politicians with concerns about noise, land aesthetics and potential impacts on neighbouring property values. Smith submitted a petition signed by people troubled with changes to a "property that was once a large empty field is now home to scrap, various other debris and increased traffic."

Schnare was granted forestry processing and automobile sales permits; both activities are allowable within the zoning. While salvage yards aren't allowed, salvage activity encompassing one-quarter of a hectare is permitted and existed before recent land-use changes came into force earlier this year. Haughn's report indicated there haven't been any known land-use violations.

While residents have been upset with a racket "created by trucks including motors running, truck engine braking and backup beepers," the noise "to date has not been in violation of what is described in the bylaw," reads the report to council.

The province's Department of Environment has been on site "to conduct investigations on multiple occasions and there are no immediate concerns" about environmental issues, and bylaw enforcement staff "do not believe that the property is currently in an unsightly condition."

Meanwhile, Schnare told LighthouseNOW he's not too bothered by the scrutiny.

"It's been an ongoing thing, so I've been sitting back watching the show," he said with a laugh.

He rents the land in question to his company R. Schnare and Son.

"I'm not surprised with the outcome," he said of the municipality's conclusions in the report. "I do have development agreements with the municipality to do what I'm doing, and we're well within the guidelines."

Allen Webber, the warden for the Municipality of Chester, suggested during the council meeting some of the dispute could have been avoided if there had been more engagement in the land-use planning process before new rules took affect. Haughn, during the same council meeting, conceded "tighter controls on land-use may have helped."

Webber wasn't optimistic contact about the Schnare property would stop in the wake of the report to council.

"Hopefully that's the end of it, but I'm not convinced at this point that it will be."

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