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Unmarked road scuttles development plans


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Ivor Sargent purchased an 89-acre parcel of land in St. Margarets 25 years ago. He never developed the property and now the 73-year-old would like to sell it.

A grown over horse and buggy trail has found its way in the middle of a Montreal man's plan to subdivide his property in eastern P.E.I.

Ivor Sargent purchased an 89-acre parcel of land in St. Margarets 25 years ago.

He never developed the property and now the 73-year-old would like to sell it.

Thinking it would be easier to sell smaller chunks of land, Sargent applied to the province for permission to subdivide the land into four strips - each running from Route 16 down to the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

His plan received preliminary approval in 2006.

"They tell me to go ahead with the survey plan, which cost me $7,000. I go ahead with the survey plan, I get it all done and we file it. Then I get a letter on May 31 of 2007 from Community and Cultural Affairs saying, ‘so sorry, we can't accept your subdivision plan.'"

It turns out a path the province calls Old Queens Road runs through Sargent's land and naturally divides his property into two parcels, although his deed lists the property as one parcel and makes no mention of the old road.

"I had no idea whatsoever that there was a non-essential highway running through the middle of my property. You can't see it, it isn't there," he said.

The path was used in the 1700s and was taken out of service in the early 1800s but was never officially closed, said Sargent.

It ran along the gulf coast connecting East Point to Cable Head and is still considered public property today.

The Department of Transportation considers it to be a non-essential highway and Sargent says officials with the department told him that entrance permits are not issued for non-essential highways meaning he cannot run a driveway over the path.

Sargent says that not being able to cross over the old path leaves him with almost 34 acres of waterfront land that he is not able to access or sell but is still taxed at full value.

He will be taking the matter before the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission Tuesday morning to see if he can get a break on taxes by reducing the property value to $1.

Transportation officials say the department tried to help Sargent by offering him a maintenance and development agreement so he can access his waterfront property.

"Our department has developed these maintenance and development agreements for people just like Mr. Sargent, to help them," said Brian Thompson, director of land and environment with the department. "He can get access to all of his properties from Old Queens Road."

After Sargent signed agreement the department had him cut down trees and bulldoze a strip of a land where the department believes the old path once ran.

Sargent calls it the road to nowhere and says no other property owners in the area were asked to reopen their portion of the old path.

"The section I had to bulldoze is the only section of the whole damn 30km road that is open and you can't get to it because there's no access from the public highway."

No other landowners have to reopen portions of Old Queens Road because no other landowners in the area have similar agreements with the province.

Thompson added that a right-of-way has been established giving Sargent access to Old Queens Road from Route 16, which gives him access to all of his waterfront property.

The whole situation has been emotionally and financially taxing on Sargent.

"This was supposed to be a routine subdivision. It now has cost me over $30,000 in useless legal fees, survey fees and government fees," he said. "It's getting crazy."

Sargent's IRAC hearing begins Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and will be made available online through a live media feed on the commission's website.

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