Cottage Craft

For the past three years, the town of St. Andrews and the owner of Cottage Craft have been at odds over repairs to the waterfront store. (Google Maps)

The town of St. Andrews has won a court decision to force the owner of an historic craft store to repair the building's wharf-like foundation, or risk demolition.

The town inspector raised concerns about Cottage Craft's waterfront structure, three years ago.

Earlier this week, a judge agreed the town followed proper procedures, said Mayor Stan Choptiany.

"We're pleased that there still is an opportunity to save a historic building that is of great importance to the town," he said. "And we hope that the owners are willing to move forward based on the direction of the court."

Choptiany said Evan Ross, the owner of Cottage Craft, has been given 45 days to take action on the building, which dates to the late-1800s. The town ordered him to produce engineered drawings of the foundation and to hire a contractor to do the required work.

However, Choptiany said no engineered drawings have ever been produced.

"Over the three years the owner has given us lots of promises, but nothing has been done," he said.

"There's nothing personal in this, there's everything in terms of being responsible, acting in a manner that's prescribed by law and morally responsible for people's safety."

Could be 'fabulous win' for town

In the meantime, Cottage Craft has been closed and notices are posted on the building that warn the structure is unsafe.​

"It's very hurtful to the business to needlessly have the shop closed," said Ross.

Next month, the court could issue a permit to demolish the building.

"At that point the judge has the ability to direct our next action. I can't speak for the judge, but we're at the stage where there is the ability for him to issue a demolition order," said Choptiany.

"But at the same time the town has had that legal authority since last September."

Meanwhile, Ross said the matter isn't that straightforward and he and his wife Michelle feel wronged by the town.

In 2010, an engineer told them the building was stable, said Ross.

But they are ready to comply with the judge's instructions.

"Oh absolutely yes, and we have to. The judge was very good in the hearing. I think he knows the building and he knows it's an important part of St. Andrews downtown and so, yes, he was great and we will follow [his instructions]."

Choptiany said if a judge issues a permit to demolish Cottage Craft, there would still be a small window of time for Ross to comply with the town's orders.

He said if Ross complies and the drawings are done to an engineer's specifications, it would be a "fabulous win for everybody in the town."

The case will be back in court next month when the judge will determine if the owners have lived up to the court's expectations.