Nova Scotia’s Department of Transportation created a safety hazard that is damaging a local business, the owner said Monday.

June Lohnes-Davis owns Summerville Beach Retreat in Queens County. The business on Highway 3 has five cottages, and guests are now worried about what Lohnes-Davis calls a dangerous entrance to the highway.

Lohnes-Davis complained to the Department of Transportation after a neighbour was allowed to put in landscaping on a right-of-way that she says obstructs the view.

But the department turned up and removed Lohnes-Davis's signs and mailbox instead. They left the landscaping. 

'We decided the best course of action would be to remove everything that was in the line of sight that was above two feet tall.' - Robyn Homans, Department of Transportation

“[I’m] frustrated and amazed. I just don’t understand,” she said. “It’s created a safety hazard.”

She said department officials originally told her the landscaping permit should not have been issued and the landscaping would be removed. 

Department reverses position

Lohnes-Davis showed CBC emails from that manager saying “we both feel it is best to remove the entire flowerbed.” He added that “the situation is very dangerous … and needs to be rectified.”

That official left the department. His replacement decided instead to take down Lohnes-Davis's sign, mailbox and civic number.

Lohnes-Davis said she's been told if she has any questions about the action to no longer contact department staff in her area, but to deal with the department's lawyer.

She’s run the business since 1991 and is “bewildered” as to why the department removed her signs and left the landscaping.

Lohnes-Davis and her neighbour are settling a property lines dispute in a court case. Lohnes-Davis says this issue is between her and the Department of Transportation.

She compared her case to that of Doug Hennigar in the Annapolis Valley. The Department of Transportation told him to move a flowerbed from beside the highway. 

“I do feel for him,” she said.

Two-foot height limit

Robyn Homans of the Department of Transportation said once Lohnes-Davis filed her complaint, department staff went to investigate.

“We decided the best course of action would be to remove everything that was in the line of sight that was above two feet tall. Unfortunately that included the sign and the mailbox,” she said.

The landscaping includes cedar trees that are much taller than that height, but they were left in place. Homans said that’s because the trees are part of the property dispute and the department didn’t want to get involved while the court action was active.

“We view landscaping that doesn’t affect drainage as enhancement, and we often allow it,” she said. “In this case, we probably should have asked for a few more details about their plan. We assume that the public is out for everybody’s best interest.”

But Homans said it doesn’t affect the highway or drainage, so they’re leaving it alone. She said they were waiting for the court case to end before giving guidelines to Lohnes-Davis on what signage would be acceptable.

“They’ll likely receive it this week,” she said. “I believe the safety matter has been completely resolved.”