Spall pair battle bureaucracy

A couple will soon move their her dream home from a property on Powerhouse Road

No more rotting floors. No more black mould. No more mice.

And, most important for a Spallumcheen couple, no more red tape.

Meg and Martin Fox will soon move what Meg calls her dream home from a property on Powerhouse Road to their own property on Eagle Rock Road. It was a move they claimed was threatened by Regional District of North Okanagan bureaucracy.

“We’re thrilled with the decision (by the regional district acting on a Spallumcheen motion),” said Meg. “We have been absolutely drained by all of this.”

It was 25 years ago that Meg borrowed money from her dad to buy the place she’s on now, on Eagle Rock Road, which contained an old mobile home when she bought it, and continued to live in it to the point it was falling apart.

It was overrun with mice, the floors were rotten and insurance for the trailer was harder to get because of its condition.

Meg came into some money to pay off the trailer mortgage and buy what she calls her dream house, which is located on blocks waiting to be moved onto her property.

The Foxes say they started looking into moving the new home onto their property in September 2012 and were told by RDNO officials that the biggest thing they needed to do was get an appraisal done.

A 15-page report showed the house passed its appraisal and fit into the neighbourhood.

“I was thinking I’m finally getting out of this God-awful trailer,” said Meg, who said she went up to the RDNO offices and told building inspector Dave Gardiner that gas to the trailer was being cut off, that furniture was being moved out, all in preparation for the dismantling of the trailer and the move of the new home onto the property.

Fox and her husband were going to live in an old fifth wheel until the new house could be moved.

The day after Fox attended RDNO, she said a message from Gardiner was left on her phone answering machine saying a moving permit will not be issued as the appraisal was incorrect.

“He didn’t have the decency to tell us to call RDNO,” fumed Fox over the phone message.

The Foxes appealed to Spallumcheen council.

“We honestly believe we haven’t been treated fairly,” said Martin. “The appraiser told me the guidelines he was given by RDNO a few years ago were not specific to our property, but that all properties were to be included in the appraisal. That doesn’t seem to be the case in our situation.”

The Foxes say the assessed value of the mobile home is $33,000.

In a report to Spallumcheen council dated June 11, Gardiner said it was determined at this time that the appraisal did not meet the requirements of the RDNO building bylaw.

“The average value of dwellings within the area indicated in the bylaw is $244,000,” wrote Gardiner. “The bylaw requires the building being moved to be appraised at one-and-a-quarter times the average value of the neighbouring homes, or $305,000.

“The appraisal values the home after the move and improvement at $145,000.”

The Foxes had support from three sets of neighbours at council.

Gardiner told council that what the appraiser did if there was no dwelling on a property, he took it to have zero value. Eleven neighbouring properties fit into the criteria and five of them had houses on them.

“He took the five houses, added all the values and divided by 11,” said Gardiner.

Coun. Joe Van Tienhoven said fixing the new home and moving it onto the property will improve everybody’s value.

“Common sense needs to prevail. We’ve got a crumbling trailer here,” said Van Tienhoven.

Coun. Christine Fraser motioned to send a request to RDNO asking for an amendment to the building bylaw to allow each jurisdiction to determine its own property values for the relocation of a house.

RDNO directors concurred unanimously.