Home owners split between decisions made regarding Rose Beach Line

·7 min read

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is continuing with the next phase in realigning Rose Beach Line in Morpeth.

During a recent council meeting, municipal staff approved the recommended purchase of approximately 2.89 acres of land along with an additional 0.63 acres adjacent to property on Rose Beach Line from Antrim Farms Ltd. The price of the land totals $112,175.

“To fulfill the preferred solution of the EA, administration is seeking approval to purchase the lands and to acquire an easement,” the report read. “The lands being purchased will be used for a turnaround bulb and construction of the private driveway.”

According to the report, closing Rose Beach Line and constructing a private driveway access behind the existing properties will ensure the properties can be accessed for the longest amount of time possible (estimated at over 25 years).

In order to provide residents with a private driveway, which was recommended in the Rose Beach Line Environmental Assessment, the property would need to be purchased by the municipality.

According to the report, the purchase price negotiated with Antrim Farms Ltd. for the lands is $101,150.000. The easement rights will be purchased for $11,025.

“The next step will be to enter into agreements with the four property owners on Rose Beach Line to access the land that will be constructed into a private driveway,” the report read. “The municipality will then tender the project for construction.”

Once the project is finished, property owners will have access to their properties as well as Antrim Farms for ongoing farm use.

Steve Varnas has lived on Rose Beach Line for more than 25 years now. He said not much has changed since he first arrived in 1996. Varnas said for at least 100 years, there’s been a road out front of his home that’s been travelled to go from Ridgetown and Morpeth to Rondeau Park.

“I figured when I bought here, even though we were close to the lake, we would have this nice road in between. And I figured the county would protect that road,” said Varnas. “We’re all stuck at the mercy of planners right now, but at least it’s something.”

Varnas, who owns one of three houses affected on Rose Beach Line, said he and many other people believe the road in front of his house can be fixed at a fraction of the cost.

The McArthur’s, Mary and Paul, also live on Rose Beach Line.

Contrary to Varnas, the couple said they are thrilled with the decisions made and do not share the opinion that fixing the road out front would be the best option.

“We would obviously prefer to go out the way that we’re going out towards Rondeau, but that’s not viable. This is the only solution they have left and we’re fine with it,” said Mary.

The move would see the road behind the three homes located on Rose Beach Line moved, therefore abandoning the road in front of the homes as the shoulder has slipped and eroded downward towards the lake.

Varnas said he is concerned the proposed laneway in the back would be rather private and out of the way.

“You got to go through the middle of a cornfield to get to the new road they’re gonna build behind these houses,” said Varnas.

Additionally, Varnas has noticed that several key services have also slipped away over the years.

“We don’t get any mail delivery. We’ve lost garbage pickup, you got to take it down to the corner. We’ve also lost school bus pickup,” said Varnas.

He added the snowplow truck would come in the winter every few hours if there were snow. Varnas now worries that the road behind his house would be viewed as the lowest priority.

While Varnas has noticed services slipping away, the MaArthur’s said they don’t share the same view.

“They (snowplow service) were very good to us when they closed the road off at the bridge up to our neighbour Carol’s house. They were very good about snow plowing it all winter. So where he’s (Varnas) getting this, I have no idea,” said Paul.

The McArthur’s are not alone when thinking the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has been there for them. Their neighbour, Carol Knight, who is the third homeowner on Rose Beach Line, said she has always been heard.

“The Municipality has always come when needed or answered our phone inquiries,” said Knight.

Mary added the fact that community mailboxes are now very popular, and they are just another part of living out on Rose Beach Line.

“We have community mailboxes which we are fine with. And the garbage does come and pick up, we have to take it down to Antrim Road, but it’s taken care of. We’re really quite happy. It’s taken a long time, but we’re glad that this is moving forward,” said Mary.

Varnas said he and his neighbours are also inconvenienced as the only way they are getting into their properties is from an opposite direction of what is being proposed.

The preferred alternative, however, includes closing the Rose Beach Line between Antrim Road and west of Wildwood on the Lake. This includes building a new private laneway to provide access to residents adjacent to the failure site and future upgrades to New Scotland Line to accommodate added traffic directed away from Rose Beach Line.

According to Paul, Varnas’ preferred choice of saving money to fix the road in front of the homes was simply not possible. He added there were two options. The first option was to restore the shoreline, whereas the second option was to put a road in behind the houses.

“The first option was definitely ruled out because the Lower Thames Authority will not allow anybody to do anything on that shoreline, as far as dumping gravel or stone or whatever. So that option was completely ruled out,” said Paul. “Mr. Varnas keeps going on about how we could do it and how cost-effective it would be. That’s beside the point. It can’t be done.”

Knight echoed the statement, adding they cannot keep talking about what should have been done as the road wasn’t looked after years ago.

“We have to move forward, and I feel this is the best solution,” said Knight.

According to Varnas, the current bridge he takes to access his property could be the entryway to the three houses located on Rose Beach Line. However, he says the bridge is seen as a risk that the county doesn’t want to take.

Varnas said the bridge he uses was constructed roughly 15 years ago, but it’s going to last 100 years and there’s nothing wrong with it.

“What they’re gonna do is close this road, take off the risks of the county, and put it on the homeowners, because they’re going to be responsible for what’s in front of the house. This way, they don’t have to spend what they think is too much money to save the road.”Paul admitted everybody has their point of view on the decisions being made. However, he said it’s time to move on.

“A lot of the things Mr. Varnas said are just not true. Option one was to fill in along the lake, and that can’t be done. I mean, you have to move on,” added Paul.

Despite the decisions that were made not being Varnas’ preferred option, he admitted he is relieved that some solution has been made.

“It’s been four years since anything has been done. Now that something is scheduled to be done, it’s actually a little bit of a relief,” admitted Varnas. “But it’s still a fact that my house is very close to the road, and they don’t care about the road collapsing because they’ve already said they won’t go that route, no matter what it costs. And it cost very little, in my opinion.”Paul’s wife, Mary, admitted it had been a long time in the making. She added the bottom line is the homeowners don’t have access to their property.

She added she is thankful for the municipality as they have worked with the property owners and worked with the engineers to collectively come up with the most favourable option.

“In retrospect, yes, it would have been nice if something had been done sooner in a more timely fashion years ago because this problem didn’t just happen overnight,” said Mary. “We have to be able to get into our house. That’s why we are certainly happy with what’s being done.”

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News

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