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.

Just Posted

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

The ‘official’ opening of 2nd Edition Coworking in downtown Fernie, a project five years in the making by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. Left to right: Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber Brad Parsell, incoming President of the Fernie Chamber Norm Fraser, outgoing President of the Fernie Chamber Anita Palmer, and Mayor of Fernie Ange Qualizza. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Chamber cuts the ribbon on 2nd Edition

The new coworking space in Fernie is now ‘officially’ open, but has been operating since early 2021

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks with the new AED SaveStation installed at the Sparwood Leisure Centre. (Contributed by District of Sparwood)
Sparwood installs public AED

The SaveStation was installed thanks to a grant from CP Rail

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

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

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read