Nova Scotia

Sandpit 'subdivision' creates unwanted backyard beach for couple's home

A Nova Scotia homeowner is fed up with all the sand blowing onto her lawn and into her house from a site next door.

A company has been working in the pit since 1994 and says 120-home subdivision in 'final stages' of planning

Consuela Prall says the sandpit behind her house constantly blows sand into her yard and home. (Robert Short/CBC)

A Nova Scotia homeowner says she's fed up with endless sand blowing onto her lawn and into her house from an open pit next door that's supposed to be turned into a new subdivision.

Consuela Prall and Justin Bruce have lived on Greenwood Road in Kingston since 2011.

One side of their property borders what appears to be a sandpit. Excavation work has moved closer over the past few years and now the edge of a steep cliff is a step away from their property line.

"You can't go outside on a windy day, because you get sand in the face," said Prall. "You have to wipe the sand off the kitchen counters before you can prepare a meal."

Unwanted backyard beach

Prall and Bruce regularly rake sand off their lawn, which at times resembles a beach. The couple has talked to municipal and provincial officials and had a meeting in 2016 with the owners of V.J. Rice, the company doing the excavation work.

V.J. Rice also owns a concrete business based in Bridgetown.

"If they were to put up an eight- to 12-foot fence, or some kind of a wall, that would be a wonderful help," said Prall.

At times their backyard looks like a beach as the sand buries the grass. (Consuela Prall)

Provincial rules for pit and quarries require setbacks and air monitoring, but the site in question is not considered a sandpit because it's zoned to be turned into a subdivision.

"Well, I look out my backyard every day and it looks to me like they're running it as a pit," said Prall.

Trish Javorek, the director of community planning for Kings County, said the municipality has not received an application for a subdivision for the property now being excavated, although the land is zoned R-2 for residential construction.

The owners of the pit say they plan to turn it into a subdivision. (Robert Short/CBC)

"[Complaints] would fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment," said Javorek. "The municipality would not have jurisdiction on extraction."

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment told CBC that following a complaint about the property, there was a site visit in May 2015. There was a request for documentation and subdivision plans were sent to the department a week later.

120 homes in the works since 1994

"Operations, including this pit, for the purposes of site development do not require approval with the Nova Scotia Environment [Department]," said spokesperson Krista Higdon.

Tom Rice, co-owner of V.J. Rice, said he has a master plan for the subdivision that involves 120 homes. The preparation work is in the "final stages," he said.

Rice said his company has been working on the property since 1994. He said land along the western edge has been rehabilitated with topsoil and seeding and similar work is planned for later this year along the eastern side, where the Greenwood Road property is located.

"If they want a higher fence, all they have to do is make a request," said Rice of the neighbours.

The edge of the pit comes very close to the backyard. (Robert Short/CBC)