The Village of Salmo has told Cody Puckett and Ashley Nelson that clearing land at this property doesn’t constitute building a property according to a bylaw. Photo: Submitted

The Village of Salmo has told Cody Puckett and Ashley Nelson that clearing land at this property doesn’t constitute building a property according to a bylaw. Photo: Submitted

Work in progress? Salmo family, village at odds over property construction

Cody Puckett says he’s being evicted from his own land, which the village disputes

A couple building a home in Salmo say the village is evicting them from their own land.

Cody Puckett and Ashley Nelson have been told they have until Dec. 15 to vacate their 17-acre property at 3 Woodland Dr. after the village cancelled their building permit and cited various violations of Salmo’s building bylaw.

Those infractions, chief among them that the couple has done no construction work on the property since the permit was issued, are being disputed by Puckett.

“The village wants to see progress, but we can’t make progress if we’re not here doing the work,” he said.

The property was purchased by Puckett’s parents in October 2017, with Puckett and Nelson named 25 per cent shareholders. Puckett says they moved an RV onto the property in October 2018, then received a building permit from the village on May 7, 2020. That permit also allows Puckett and Nelson to live in the RV during construction.

Salmo’s building bylaw stipulates a permit can be terminated if “work authorized by the permit is not commenced within six months from the date of issuance of the permit.”

What constitutes work is a source of dispute between both parties.

Puckett said they have spent months clearing the forested area while also milling timber for the home. But in a letter from Salmo’s bylaw enforcement office dated Dec. 1, the village said preparing lumber isn’t the same as building.

Mayor Diana Lockwood told the Nelson Star that distinction isn’t unique to Salmo.

“You don’t have to have a building permit to clear land to get the land ready to build,” she said. “You can own land anywhere and go and prepare it. Take down the trees, remove shrubbery, whatever. And then you would go in and get your building permit.”

Puckett said his family isn’t asking for an extension to the permit. They just want the year already agreed on to finish the home.

“They approved our … permit for one year, and we’re six months into that. We just want them to give us that year that we’ve paid for.”

Who owns the property is also a matter of debate.

The names on the property’s title are Puckett’s parents, Tom Puckett and Karen Johnson. Tom Puckett, an experienced builder, lives in 100 Mile House but hasn’t been able to help out due to pandemic travel restrictions and a heart attack he says he suffered Oct. 17.

That matters because the village has told the family only the owner may live in the onsite RV during construction, but that stipulation also doesn’t exist in the bylaw.

The village also accuses Cody Puckett and Nelson of:

• Not having the RV connected to the village’s water and sewer system, which is required by the bylaw and also impossible given the location of the property.

Puckett said he didn’t understand why they were initially given the permit for the RV if that was an issue.

Up to this point, the pair have been using a pit to catch grey water and a privy for sewage, neither of which the village says are allowed by provincial health regulations. Puckett added they plan to install a well and septic system in the spring.

Lockwood said two other homes near the Puckett property have built their own water and septic systems. Extending the village system to that location, she said, would be too expensive for just three properties.

• Building roads on the property. Puckett said pre-existing logging roads on the property have been cleaned for wildfire mitigation, but that they have not built any new roads.

A provision in the bylaw allows for a permit’s extension “where construction has not commenced or where construction has been discontinued due to adverse weather, strikes, material or labour shortages, or similar hardship beyond the owner’s control.”

Puckett says the pandemic, and his father’s condition, should be fall within that provision.

“If these aren’t times of hardship, I don’t know what are.”

But Lockwood said the family never applied for an extension, and that an extension wouldn’t satisfy the village’s current concerns.

“Everybody has to play by the same rules,” she said.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Les Cleverly, formerly of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue, is suing the city as well as current and former city firefighters over alleged workplace bullying and defamation. File photo.
Former Grand Forks firefighter suing department, city over alleged conspiracy, constructed dismissal

Plaintiff Les Cleverly filed a notice of civil claim with the Supreme Court of BC in last week

The flag that would normally fly at the Grand Forks Legion was cut down early Sunday, Jan. 17, according to Grand Forks RCMP. Photo courtesy of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 059
Flag vandalized at Grand Forks’ Royal Canadian Legion

Grand Forks RCMP said no one saw who cut down the flag Sunday morning, Jan. 17

A map released by the BCCDC Friday, Jan. 15 shows five diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks health area. Photo: Maps: COVID-19 cases in BC, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control website
Five COVID-19 cases reported in Grand Forks area

The BC Centre for Disease Control announced the cases in a weekly update Friday, Jan. 15

A juvenile sturgeon in a B.C. rearing facility. The wild population in the Upper Columbia is estimated at 1,100 individuals, enhanced with roughly 5,500 hatchery fish. (file photo)
B.C.’s Upper Columbia sturgeon endure long battle with local extinction

Decades of monitoring and intervention is ongoing to save the prehistoric fish

The aftermath of Thursday morning’s car crash at Greenwood’s Deadwood Junction, Jan. 14. Photo courtesy of Midway RCMP
Midway RCMP looking driver who left crash outside Greenwood café

Cpl. Phil Peters said Mounties were called to the scene early Thursday morning, Jan. 14

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Most Read