Neighbours’ river access dispute considered by Council

Allegations of bullying and conflict of interest were levelled during a minor variance application heard by Council on September 4 2018. The application related to the request by Carol-Noele Herriott and Russell Brian Herriott of 560 Ohio Road, Combermere to purchase the Shoreline Road Allowance (SRA) on the Madawaska River adjacent to their property.

They were opposed by their neighbours, Tim Treacy and Nancy Zabukovec, who filed letters from other Ohio Road residents who also objected. The area that was the subject of the application encompasses a sandy point extending along the shoreline in front of both properties. In written submissions, Treacy stated that this “main access to the water” has been “peacefully shared between the neighbours for our mutual enjoyment,” at least since 2010 when they purchased their property. He said he had a meeting this June with the Herriotts after they had purchased 560 Ohio Road which ended with the Herriotts saying that there was no SRA. Treacy disputed this and said he had documentation which proved the contrary, which he would show the Herriotts within a few days. However, he claims that on the same day after the meeting the Herriotts erected a barricade across the access, followed by caution tape, followed by the skeleton of a dock which he claimed cut him off from water access to the sandy beach. “It was obvious the occupants were trying to cut off any access, by land or water, to the sandy beach by anyone except for themselves,” he said. He pointed out also that he had a dock which was located on the other side of the sandy point, access to which was also restricted.

Treacy reported that the Township’s Manager of Planning, Development & Licensing told him that what the Herriotts’ were doing was “not legal” and he was advised to contact his lawyer. However, when he returned home after that meeting he was confronted with a newly-erected fence across the SRA. He was advised to file a complaint, which resulted in the Herriotts receiving a letter from the Township telling them to immediately remove the fence. He says that request was not complied with although subsequently a small section of it was removed. Treacy described this behaviour as constituting a “bullying approach.” He added, “We are also concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest given the fact that the brother of the owner of 560 Ohio Road is on Council.”

The Herriots responded to Treacy’s allegations by saying that within days after they had bought their property, they were told by the Township that there was no SRA, which they now accept was mistaken. They said they only erected the fence “temporarily” so that they could have “some peace and quiet at the shoreline.” They said they complied with every directive from the CAO and By-Law Officer. In response to the allegations about their behaviour, they said that they were offended. Mr. Herriott said that they  are both retired police officers and they “hold every individual that we have had contact with both professionally and personally with the highest respect and regard. To be called bullies is just unacceptable.”

Council noted that there were private issues relating to boundaries and encroachments over which they had no jurisdiction. Also it was revealed that the listing agreements for the sales of both properties each showed a boathouse as being within its ownership. Council pointed out that this was inaccurate because the boathouse stands on the SRA and is therefore on municipal land. Encouragement was given for it to be removed at the earliest opportunity. As for the application itself, Council approved the Herriotts’ application to purchase part of the SRA, the area to be re-surveyed using a straight line projection of the property line and also to allow for the necessary flooding easement.

2 Comments

  1. The Current

    The following members of Council were present at the Special Council Meeting that heard this application: Mayor Love, Councillor Archer, Councillor Bromwich, Councillor Maika. There were no recusals.

  2. Jane Smith

    2 questions come to mind. Who has been paying taxes on the boathouse? And did the councillor recuse himself from the issue because his sister stands to financially benefit from the outcome ?

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