Jennifer Baker has enjoyed a beautiful ocean view from her home for 30 years, but a neighbour’s construction project is blocking that vista.
Baker is preparing to sell her house on South Murphy Street and she worries that the new shed behind her will spoil the pretty ocean view and substantially lower the asking price.
“I’m fixing it up and I’m going to lose,” said Baker. “The view is going to be gone. I would just have a corner and I’m not paying taxes to have a corner view.”
Baker’s neighbour is building a shed for his boat, a 648 square foot building that’s roughly 15 feet high. There’s no roof on the structure yet, but once it goes up, Baker said her view of the ocean will be completely blocked and replaced by a big, wooden box whenever she looks out her big living room windows or patio doors.
“Once he puts the roof up, the view is gone,” said Baker. “It just makes me sick to look at it – it shouldn’t be there.”
She’s frustrated because she has already spent $15,000 renovating her house to prepare it for the open market and now could potentially lose the money she’s putting into the home to completely re-do it.
She also recently cut down some trees on her property to enhance the view, but now she figures it was all a waste.
But Baker isn’t the only one who stands to have their view spoiled. Her next door neighbour, Jim Johnson, said the building affects the view of several homes.
“It’s not fair,” said Johnson. “In this case, if impairing the homeowners’ views is not legally wrong, it sure is morally wrong. I’m sure a similar situation would not take place in front of the home of a city official or planning department employee.”
He said he doesn’t understand why a variance process where affected neighbours were notified of the project, didn’t happen.
Like Johnson, Baker said she’s upset she had no warning the boat shed would be going up and figured there would be a letter from the city or the property owner.
“I don’t know why the hell the city ever approved it,” said a frustrated Baker.
Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use manager, said the homeowner was awarded the building permit because the project meets the property’s zoning bylaw.
Although older developments with ocean views often have restrictive covenants placed on them to ensure the view, and value of the property, is maintained, Blackwell said to his knowledge, the property in question did not have one.
“I don’t believe there’s a restrictive covenant but there may be a development scheme by the developer of the day but the city would not be party to it,” he said. “Meaning, a private agreement, if there is such a thing.”
Blackwell said the city’s zoning bylaw for the area does restrict additional, or ancillary structures, of a certain height but the boat shed falls within the city’s allowable limit of 16 feet, or five metres, high.
“I feel for her, but if he’s doing everything in accordance, it’s just one of those unfortunate realities,” said Blackwell. “Changes in the neighbourhood happen.”