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Ellershouse man lobbying council to clean up unsightly former gas station property

With three small children at home, Ellershouse resident Steve Brown says he's concerned with the state of a former gasoline service station located near his property.
With three small children at home, Ellershouse resident Steve Brown says he's concerned with the state of a former gasoline service station located near his property.

ELLERSHOUSE, N.S. — A West Hants resident is asking the municipality to take action to remove an unsightly – and, he feels, dangerous – property in Ellershouse.

Steve Brown lives next door to an old gas station, formerly Davison's Ultramar, in the 6,100 block of Highway 1 near Dawson Road.

The site has fallen into disrepair over recent years — something that Brown says is unacceptable. He took his concerns to council, and is patiently waiting for his concerns to be addressed.

“I've called and complained on numerous occasions. The roof has been collapsed for three years there. It's been an eyesore for five years. The consensus around the neighbourhood is that it needs to go,” said Brown while sitting in a chair at his home and pointing out that the windows are boarded up.

“When I moved in here, it was an open business and it was looked after and it was very convenient having a gas station there and a mechanic next door,” said Brown. “Once it closed, it became less looked after — I guess one would say. Obviously it wasn't kept up. In 2014, when we had all the snow we had that year, the roof collapsed. And since then, it's been in the state it's in.”

Brown said when he saw the property up for a municipal tax sale about a year ago, he was optimistic something would be done. That optimism has waned.

“I think that it's a fire hazard, an environmental hazard, and I'm not convinced that it's structurally stable, even though the municipality has deemed it so,” he said.

With three young children, all under the age of five, Brown said safety is at the top of his mind and would hope area representatives would agree. He's also concerned with some of the 'questionable' people who park there very late at night. Furthermore, he fears the property value of his home, plus those who live nearby, will be negatively impacted as the site continues to erode.

“I understand that there is a cost to that, and I know that most of the taxpayers would not want to foot the bill. But, if you ask any resident of West Hants, I bet you they wouldn't want to live next to that either,” he said.

 

Province investigating site

When Brown approached the municipality to air his concerns at the end of June, CAO Cathie Osborne said the municipality doesn't own the property and that they are monitoring the situation. She said the Department of Environment is involved and would have the authority to order the underground gasoline tanks to be removed. Osborne said it would be best to wait to see what comes of their investigation.

“Once they do that, then that makes that property a bit more available and palatable to a potential purchaser,” said Osborne, at the June 27 committee of the whole meeting when the topic was first raised.

“In the meantime, we will continue to monitor it and request what action that we can. This isn't an overnight process. It takes a while.”

The Department of Environment was contacted by this paper for comment July 6. On Aug. 2, a spokesperson with the department confirmed the property is under investigation.

“We are aware of the site you refer to and a ministerial order was issued to the property owner to remove the empty petroleum storage tanks,” said Krista Higdon in an email. “The matter is still under investigation.”

Brown said regardless of who takes responsibility for the site, he hopes it can be cleaned up before winter weather hits.

“I'm hoping that the municipality will, at the very least, accept ownership of the property or responsibility for its remediation. Either put a roof on that building and sell it as a business or tear it down and sell the lot,” said Brown.

He said it's in a prime location.

“It's zoned for everything on a major tourist route,” said Brown.

“Basically, this is Main Street West Hants, when you think about it. Highway 1 runs through most of it and is the collector for all the other roads that take us to the highway. It's a pretty major route.”

With three small children at home, Ellershouse resident Steve Brown says he's concerned with the state of a former gasoline service station located near his property.

 

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