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Troutdale inspector violated procedures, state rules


Former Mayor Jim Kight's building remains a controversy for city of Troutdale

by: OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Jim Kights controversial building located on his property, next to his residence and situated on a flood plain.Troutdale building official Dick Bohlmann's job is on the line after a state review found him in violation of numerous state laws in his work on former Mayor Jim Kight's property.

According to a new release from the Oregon Building Code Division, investigators said Bohlmann "failed to follow standards regarding his state-issued certifications and disregarded local processes."

Bohlmann and Rich Faith, community development director, have been on paid administrative leave since February and March, respectively, while state agencies are investigating the construction of the controversial structure former Mayor Jim Kight built next to his house while he was mayor.

Chris Huntington, deputy administrator with Building Codes Division, said the agency found Bohlmann not only failed to follow state procedures in his work on the Kight property, but in other projects he inspected for Troutdale.

The Oregon Building Codes Division regulates state construction standards of which local building inspectors must follow.

The agency cited "numerous irregularities in the administration of state standards overseen by Bohlmann," and for Kight's property, "gaps in the appropriate building permits being issued, inspections being performed, and a disregard of the city's flood plain and flood hazard requirements."

City Manager Craig Ward said, “We are surprised and disappointed at the findings." Ward is reviewing the matter and has not yet decided how to respond.

Bohlmann faces civil penalties of $4,000 and the revocation of his building official and inspector certification, Huntington said.

Bohlmann has the opportunity to appeal the charges in front of a judge, he said.

As for Rich Faith, Ward said, “Mr. Faith's situation is not related to the state's actions and will be addressed separately.”

Mayor Doug Daoust said the Troutdale City Council has no say in personnel actions.

"This is Craig Ward's decision totally," he said.

But Daoust did say, “If they revoke certain licenses that he has in the building inspection arena, our hands are tied as to what kind of work he can do for us.”

"Obviously if his licenses are revoked, he can't do that kind of work anymore."

Daoust said Ward is likely waiting for a report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which also is investigating the legality of Kight's structure.

“I know this has been dragging on way too long,” Daoust said. He said the city has been waiting on the state agencies to complete investigations since it requested the state review in August 2012.

Daoust said it's better to have state backing to help make this difficult personnel decision, than soley Craig Ward or city attorneys. “Especially when most people recognize it was former Mayor Kight that was unduly pressuring Dick Bohlmann in this whole process,” he said.

"That's the gut-wrenching part of this whole thing — the effect on city staff rather than the effects on Mayor Kight,” Daoust said.

by: OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Jim Kight discusses the plans of his building.Whether Rich Faith outstepped his authority or made wrong decisions will likely show up in the FEMA report, he said.

“That will be another judgment call (for Ward),” Daoust said.

The city's initial investigation extended to numerous government agencies that oversee everything from zoning to state licensure of city officials to flood-plain issues.

It began when city councilors raised concerns regarding the structure on Kight's Troutdale property near the Sandy River. The structure originally proposed was a 768-square-foot garden shed, but ultimately what was constructed was a 2,013-square-foot building with a basement. The building is adjacent to his home on Jackson Road.

The council said Kight misled city staff and took advantage of the city’s permitting process to get the building approved even though it violates city codes by being a house with an unfinished basement, two offices, a bathroom and a kitchen.

Kight has emphatically insisted the building, used as office space to manage his rental properties, is a city-approved, legal accessory structure, and does not qualify as a house.

The structure is next to his home, and the property that both buildings are on is zoned as single-family residential. A city investigation later found

Daoust said a letter Ward received from the Oregon Building Codes Devision, confirms Kight's structure is a house.

What happens to Jim Kight and his house, Daoust said, “That is up to the council. We have not decided what to do about that yet, but we will have to as a council."

Daoust said the council is waiting for the state to chime in.

“So we can figure out what to do about the whole thing,” he said. “What to do about the house.”