Undeveloped lots danger, eyesore to Erin Ridge neighbourhood
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 04:15 pm
Leaning against her front door, Amanda Campbell can only frown at the sight of the two empty home construction lots across the street.
Located at 77 and 81 Erin Ridge Dr., Campbell said the two lots have remained undeveloped for years and the builder, Martin Homes, is using them as storage sites for construction material, dirt and heavy equipment. That causes safety concerns for the children playing in her cul-de-sac, and an eyesore to the neighbourhood, she said.
“My concern is that the neighbourhood is fully developed and the lots are still sitting empty,” she said. “He’s got no timeline to finish them and no ambition it seems … He doesn’t seem to care that we sit here with his mud flowing through the streets for five years.”
Campbell said she complained to the city and the company about cement trucks emptying their garbage on the lots and the weeds overgrowing. But the owner of Martin Homes replied it was another company’s equipment – he was in Las Vegas and there was nothing he could do about it, she said.
“The weeds grow two feet tall … They left a flatbed trailer for five years, and they park it there in the winter,” she said. “We are not allowed to park equipment on anything that’s not paved in the city yet he’s more than welcome to.”
In a letter to the editor published in the Aug. 24 edition of the St. Albert Gazette, neighbourhood resident Dustin Bizon wrote that he’s been waiting for the completion of construction on the two lots since he moved into his home in 2007.
Bizon, who resides two houses down from one of the lots, said heavy equipment is moving back and forth from a nearby worksite “with no signage or consideration for public safety.” He later told the Gazette that “there is unattended equipment sitting in the empty lots for weeks and months at a time.”
But Manuel Martin, owner of Martin Homes, said Bizon may simply dislike the idea of him retiring instead of developing the sites.
“Martin Homes is no longer operating in St. Albert,” he said. “So I don’t even know why he is even picking on Martin Homes.”
Following the financial crash in 2007, Martin said he semi-retired his company and bought the remaining lots Martin Homes owned in St. Albert. He added that he is back in the construction business now but stopped operating his company out of the city. Two weeks ago, he said the two lots on Erin Ridge Drive were committed to be sold to another builder.
“The buyer that is going to buy the lots is going to buy them and build on them,” he said.
He added that he is a shareholder in the company but won't mention its name. Martin said he works for the builder as a superintendent and will receive interest on the lots.
Asked why there is still construction material parked on the lots he replied that he doesn’t complain about other people parking their equipment on his land either – referring to a boat parked on one of the lots.
Whether or not his company is still operating out of the city doesn’t matter as long as Martin owns the land, said Mayor Nolan Crouse. Crouse said he did not know how long Martin was allowed to store equipment on his land.
There are no laws in place that require a developer to either sell his land or build on it after some time. But the city has the right to move on Martin if he doesn’t keep the sites clean, he said.
“And of course those (bylaws) are difficult to enforce because by the time we get around to enforcement they go around and have (the lots) cleaned up,” Crouse said. “But his sites have been a problem.”
Since the two lots have caused problems for years, city staff are now looking into the legality of the issues, he added. Crouse already met with Martin three times but said city council may have to get involved if nothing can be resolved.
Residents at Erin Ridge Drive have considered their own solutions in past years. Campbell said they offered to buy one of the lots between all of the neighbours but the price was too high. When told that Martin may have sold the lots and construction may commence in the next year, she shrugs her shoulders and sighs.
“I believe it when I see it,” she said.