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Lane lives up to its name after boundary dispute breaks out

Michael Corea, holding the deeds to his property on Controversy Lane in Pembroke, stands by the land boundary that he insists the Government has breached from its ground next door (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Controversy Lane in Pembroke lived up to its name this week when a row broke out after a property boundary appeared to be moved by the Government.

Mike Corea, who lives next door to an area designated as parkland on the Department of Planning website, said digging by contractors hired by the Government had gone more than 20 feet beyond the border and on to his property.

Stephanie Dashiell, a real estate agent who Mr Corea had contacted earlier on a potential land sale, said: “It looks like a land grab is in progress.

“Controversy Lane does live up to its name.”

Mr Corea said the Government’s land to the north of his Spanish Point property had been parkland until a few weeks ago, when diggers moved in.

He contacted The Royal Gazette this week after a surveyor on Monday staked out a property boundary, including spray-painting the road, in a line that went inside his property and an area designated woodland reserve on top of open space reserve.

Mr Corea added the Government had not told him what they planned for the site.

He said: “The word from a neighbour was they are going to get rid of Controversy Lane and put in another road.

“But Controversy Lane is private. It’s owned by the landowners all the way up to the Tulo Valley nursery.

“My father and grandfather cut this road back in 1927.”

Mr Corea highlighted a boundary marker on the roadside, now buried under earth pushed over the edge by bulldozers.

He said: “It’s always been there. Now they’ve put in stakes of their own and lined them up with the spray-paint in the road.”

Mr Corea said the land next door had been vacant land and used to store boats before it came under the remit of the Department of Parks.

He added: “For years it was overgrown. Nobody used it.

“Now, out of the blue, they’ve taken the trees out. We don’t know what they are doing.”

The Story behind Controversy Lane

The Bermuda Gazetteer, which traces the origins of the island’s often colourful place names, said Controversy Lane got its name from decades of property disputes – unresolved until 1994.

The land cuts through several acres that were the subject of a dispute between the trustees of William Chiappa and the family of Henry Corea, who were accused of being squatters.

The Chiappa trustees tried to have the Coreas evicted, and although the Supreme Court sided with the trustees in 1979, the decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal and a second law suit was launched ten years later.

But the Supreme Court dismissed the case in 1994 on the ground that the trustees had failed to appeal the earlier reversal by the courts.

Mr Corea said that there had been a settlement with his family after years of legal wrangling over the ownership of the property, which overlooks Mill Creek.

He added: “It’s been surveyed numerous times. Nothing has changed.”

Ms Dashiell said residents in the area were “up in arms”.

She added: “They have not been contacted, there is no communication about what is going on, there is no permit, there has been nothing except machines uprooting trees and land and pushing over on to Mr Corea’s property.”

Ms Dashiell said the digging had cut into woodland reserve and left “a dangerous situation” along the edge of Controversy Lane at a bend that sloped down towards the waterside.

She said loose soil full of bottles had been piled in a “precarious” embankment next to the road.

Ms Dashiell warned: “This embankment could topple. It’s very haphazard. People come and go here quite often – it’s quite a busy lane.

“There’s a concern it could give way and come into the road – it’s an accident waiting to happen”.

Ms Dashiell also questioned why the property was being surveyed three weeks after work had started.

She added: “The way it’s normally done in real estate is that when Government is doing any sort of project that comes up to the boundary, they would make contact with the owner.

She said the work had “directly affected Mr Corea’s property value” and that he planned to take legal action.

The Gazette reported in 1995 on a court battle between the Government and another Controversy Lane resident, William Bascome, who was accused of being a squatter on the land.

The Government claimed it held title to the land after the British Admiralty ceded the property to the Government in 1954.

A further three acres was bought from the Chiappa estate in 1983.

But the courts ruled in Mr Bascome’s favour in 1995, which left him with two acres.

The public works ministry did not respond to a request for comment on Mr Corea’s claims and the plans for the parkland area.

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Published June 16, 2021 at 7:58 am (Updated June 16, 2021 at 7:19 am)

Lane lives up to its name after boundary dispute breaks out

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