By Mark Squibb | Nov. 19, 2020
A man who’s partially constructed home was a recent hot topic of discussion among Carbonear councillors said he wants residents of the community to know that he did everything aboveboard.
“All I really wanted was to let residents of Carbonear know that my wife and I never just went and said, ‘We’re building a house, what odds what anybody else says.’ We went the right route,” said Michael Parsons.
The subject was first broached during the October 27 meeting of council, when council was informed by its chief administrative officer that it had received a letter from the provincial government regarding a home being built on English Hill Extension, or Gadden’s Mash.
The Town had not issued a permit for the home because the Mash exists within the Carbonear Municipal Planning Area but not inside the actual municipal boundary.
Council debated issuing a stop workorder during that meeting, but delayed the vote until the next meeting.
Parsons discovered council was debating the issue not from council, but from coverage in The Shoreline.
“One of my friends called me one night and said that his grandmother had read in the paper about a stop work order possibly being placed on a home on English Hill Extension. At that time, I didn’t have a clue that anything was going on,” said Parsons.
But there was one important piece of information that didn’t surface during council’s discussion: Parson’s actually did have a permit, though not one from the Town.
“I was told the Town couldn’t issue me a permit because it wasn’t in their jurisdiction, but that they couldn’t stop me from building. So, before investing a pile of money into a house, I found out from other people who live up there what they had done,” said Parsons. “I contacted the Department of Works and Transportation and had a meeting with them, and they came out to the property, looked at it, and told me all their regulations, and two weeks later I got my permit for a permanent residence on that property. It’s not like I said, ‘shag the Town,’ and went and built a home. I made sure everything was legit. I had paperwork and a permit to say yes, I could build it there. We thought everything was good— until we found out about the story in the paper.”
After hearing about the discussion, his wife called Carbonear-Trinity- Bay de Verde MHA Steve Crocker, while Parsons got on the horn to members of council.
“Most of the councillors, when I was talking to them, said they weren’t going to vote to issue a stop work order. I explained to them that I had a permit from the government, and it seems a lot of them didn’t know that I had a permit,” said Parsons.
The next day, Friday, October 30, he went to the Town Hall, armed with his permit from the provincial government.
“I had a copy of the permit, which I showed them, and said that this was from the government,” said Parsons.
During the next meeting of council, held on November 10, council, true to its word, made the decision to not issue the stop work issue. Mayor Frank Butt did not cast a vote, as he had declared a conflict of interest, as he himself owns land in the Mash.
Though Parsons will be able to build his home without any further worry, the question as to who really owns the Mash is still hazy.
The Town does provide fire protection services to homes there, but for a fee, while residents also pay for garage collection. Meanwhile, roads are plowed by the provincial government.
Council did investigate expansion into the Mash some years back, but didn’t commit to the idea.
While Parsons said there are several options to consider, including allowing the Mash to function as a local service district, his worry is that if there is no resolution, another homeowner will find himself in the same situation down the road.
“It’s a conflict between the Town and the government, with the residents living up there all snarled up in it,” said Parsons.