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Township clears paperwork in subdivision berm dispute

Call it a reasonable facsimile of closure. Close enough for the township to essentially wash its hands of a three-year-old dispute involving a berm behind some of the homes on Robb Road and Bristow Creek Drive in Elmira.

The dispute surfaced in June 2007 when an eight-foot (2.5-metre) berm was erected behind the homes, catching the residents by surprise. The homeowners said they were never told about the hill, which has cut up to 16 feet off the rear of some properties. The builder, Claysam Homes, countered the berm was planned from day-one, included in the subdivider’s agreement approved by the township.

To minimize the loss of land in rear yards, the berm was constructed with a 2:1 slope, rather than the 3:1 outlined in the grading plan filed with Woolwich. But legal wranglings ensued, with township council ultimately removing itself from a mediating position due to advice from its lawyers.

Fast forward three years to Tuesday night, when director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley recommended to councillors they approve a revised official grading plan, paving the way for the release of a $2,000 grading deposit for each of the 10 affected properties.

Not all of the homeowners have signed off on the changes, but the township doesn’t expect the others to come on board, he said in suggesting the revisions go ahead nonetheless.

“Notwithstanding our efforts to obtain written consents, four signatures remain outstanding to date, and all indications are that the residents have no intention to sign at any time.”

While only six of 10 have agreed, all of landowners will get their deposits back. Kennaley said withholding the money from those who hadn’t agreed to the changes might look like the township was penalizing them.

Those who hadn’t signed claim they were misled, and signing off on the changes would make it appear as though they’re agreeing with the situation, he explained.

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