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Judge issues West Linn pool verdict: guilty

Couple could pay up to $366,000 for installing pool with no permit near a wetland


A West Linn couple has been found guilty of installing a swimming pool in their backyard without the proper permits and could face some hefty fines.

West Linn Municipal Court Judge Heather Karabeika announced Monday that she found Troy and Gina Bundy in violation of the city’s community development code.

Although the Bundys have been in violation of city code since the pool was installed in 2009, the statute of limitations restricts the fines to six months prior to the issuance of the citations. The citations were issued May 25. The Bundys face fines of $2,000 a day, which could add up $366,000.

The Bundys, who pleaded not guilty, appeared in municipal court Sept. 4 and 5 for a hearing, with Troy Bundy, who is a lawyer, representing his wife and himself.

The couple have been battling over the pool with the city of West Linn for several years. The pool and a patio were installed without a permit in a sensitive water resource area. Their house, located at 1215 Ninth St., is sandwiched between two wetland areas. Since 2001 — two years before the Bundys moved in — the city has had a conservation easement on the property that also limits its use.

The Bundys admitted in court that they installed the pool and the patio on their property before receiving the proper permits. After an application was submitted, city staff members denied the permit. The Bundys then took the appeal to the city council and then to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals. The denial was upheld each time.

Since June 2011, the city and the Bundys have been negotiating a timeline for the pool’s removal and remediation without any resolution. Because there was no progress in the negotiations, city attorney Tim Ramis recommended pursuing a different route — thus, the hefty daily citations and court date.

During more than 11 hours of court testimony, the Bundys contended the city made the pool installation process confusing, tricky and cumbersome. They also argued that the area behind their home, which is owned by Portland General Electric, is not a wetland by the city’s definition and that it is a manmade wetland. They also laid blame on city staff as well as a former mayor for misinformation and discrimination.

The judge found all of those claims to be without warrant.

The court found that the Bundy’s home falls within a water resource area and that a special permit is needed to build a pool. The judge also found the Bundys were aware of the need for the permit before construction started.

“Mr. Bundy is an experienced attorney and should have been wary of proceeding in this fashion to make modifications on his property without the city’s approval in advance,” Karabeika wrote in her findings. “This is particularly so as his wife had had regular communications with the city prior to the pool/patio installation and the Bundys had clearly been told the permit was not approved.”

The next step is disposition, which is set for 3 p.m. Sept. 20. At that time the judge will determine the penalty for the violation.

Although the judge cannot order the removal of the pool or restoration of the property, she could offer a financial incentive by offering to reduce the penalty if the Bundys agree to removal and restoration within a set timeframe.

“We’re pleased they were found guilty and will wait for the outcome,” Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt said. “We are looking what the next steps will be. This is pretty unprecedented in the scope of the violation and the penalty we’re seeking.”

Because the matter is still under the judge’s advisement, Troy Bundy declined to comment on the decision.

“As always, we continue to remain willing to discuss reasonable options to resolve the matter, which is what we intend to raise for the judge’s consideration as she requested in her opinion letter,” he wrote in an email.