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

Edna Whiteley in 2016. “Her whole life has been happy and about helping others,” says her nephew Bob Steed. Photo: Submitted
Nelson’s ‘little firecracker’ Edna Whiteley turns 100

Whiteley is known as a welcoming ambassador for new arrivals in the city

Photo: Trail Times
Trail property taxes will go up 3.99 per cent in 2021

Trail council kept the 2020 property tax rate at 0 % over the previous year

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

An animal carrier full of bullet holes and containing a dead animal was found near Castlegar. Photo: Colleen Schwartz
Castlegar woman finds dead animal inside carrier riddled with bullet holes

The remains were discovered near Syringa Creek Provincial Park

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)
Man arrested in incident at Canada-U.S. border near Roosville

A man who crossed the border illegally was apprehended by U.S. officials

Most Read