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State determines Kight's accessory building is a house

City says building is out of compliance with city codes, seeks corrective action


As a result of several state investigations into the construction of the accessory building built by former Mayor Jim Kight, the city of Troutdale is taking formal action and requiring the structure be brought into compliance.

by: THE OUTLOOK: FILE PHOTO - Jim Kight, former mayor of TroutdaleCity Manager Craig Ward wrote a letter dated Monday, Oct. 28, to Jim and Nina Kight, saying the state has determined “the structure is a residential dwelling unit” and “not an accessory structure.”

Based on the state’s determination that the structure is a “dwelling,” Ward said the structure violates federal and city floodplain standards.

Also, because the state has declared the structure is a “dwelling,” it is therefore out of compliance with the city’s zoning code, which Ward said allows for only one residential dwelling on the property.

A legal assistant for attorney Charles Kovas of Warren Allen law firm in Northeast Portland — who represents Kight — told The Outlook that Kovas has no comment. Kight could not be reached for comment, although repeated messages were left on his business phone.

The recent action taken by the city of Troutdale comes on the heels of news that Kight has put his home up for sale and with it the so-called accessory building that has been under investigation by city and state agencies for months.

His property at 950 S.E. Jackson Park Road has been on the market since Sept. 25, according to online property listings.

Kight has emphatically insisted the accessory building he had built while he was mayor in 2010 is a city-approved, legal accessory structure that does not qualify as a house. He said he uses it as office space to manage his rental properties.

by: THE OUTLOOK: FILE PHOTO - The structure, defined as an accessory building by former Troutdale Mayor Jim Kight, is up for sale along with his home at 950 S.E. Jackson Park Road.A city investigation found that instead of a 768-square-foot shed Kight originally proposed, he had built a 1,016-square-foot building with a 1,016-square-foot basement.

Last month, the state found that Troutdale building inspector Dick Bohlmann failed to follow inspection standards and city codes when he signed off on the accessory building on Kight’s property, which is zoned for one single-family home and sits in a floodplain along Beaver Creek.

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Building Codes Division and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development have separately investigated the construction of what they call “Shed B” on Kight’s property.

In addition to the recent report from the state’s Building Codes Division, a final report from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) was the last item the city of Troutdale had been waiting for before it decided to take action on Kight’s structure.

In the letter to Kight, Ward wrote:

“The Building Codes Division has determined, contrary to the city building official’s position, the structure is a residential unit. Based, in part, on that determination, as well as upon other documentation, the Department of Land Conservation and Development found that the structure violates provisions of the National Flood Insurance Program, which caused the DLCD, in conjunction with Federal Emergency Management Agency, to initiate a community assistance visit, a comprehensive assessment of the city’s flood plain management program.”

The letter continued, “On Oct. 11, (the) DLCD shared the results of the community assistance visit with the city. Shed B is among the properties that are listed requiring the city to take corrective action to bring the structure into compliance. Additionally, the state’s determination that, in accordance with state building codes, the structure is a dwelling and not an accessory structure raises questions about the structure’s compliance with zoning requirements of the Troutdale Development Code, since a lot zoned R-20 may only have one residential dwelling.”

Ward went on to say, “The purpose of this letter is to put you on notice that DLCD has determined that Shed B violates the provisions of the National Flood Insurance program as well as Troutdale’s Floodplain Management Standards and that remediation will be necessary.”

The letter also said, “Additionally, the Building Code Division’s determination that the structure is a dwelling renders it out of compliance with the city’s zoning code.”

“We hope that we will be able to work through these compliance issues cooperatively,” Ward wrote in the letter. “However, in the meantime, please anticipate a visit from the city’s code enforcement officer in the near future.”

Ward, on advice from the city attorney, declined a request by The Outlook to describe what might be required of the Kights to bring the structure into compliance.

Kight house for sale

Kight is asking roughly $549,000 for his three-bedroom, 1,855-square-foot single-family home, which sits on less than 2 acres and includes an “additional structure.”

A 1,000-square-foot additional structure is listed as having two bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen, storage, wood floors, closet, built-ins and plumbing.

Law requires seller to disclose

The Outlook asked three local attorneys and a real estate professional to weigh in on whether the Kights could sell the property despite pending government action regarding the accessory building.

All three lawyers said yes, Kight can sell the house.

“There is no restriction on whether or not he can sell it,” said Jeff Frasier, senior attorney at Chenoweth Law Group in Portland.

However, state-mandated disclosure laws require the seller to disclose any problems with the property to the potential buyer, among them any pending governmental studies or assessments against the property, zoning violations and nonconforming uses.

Of Kight’s property, Frasier said, “I think this is a disclosure issue, no question about it.”

“If he doesn’t disclose everything going on, he could be subject to a claim later on by the next buyer,” Frasier said.

Gresham attorney Patton Echols said if investigations find that Kight did build his accessory building without the proper supervision, the city potentially could come back and force the buyer to make changes to the structure or take it down.

“The fact that he sells it isn’t going to wash what’s been done before,” said Troutdale attorney Richard Weill. “Unless (the buyers) are from Mars or out of state, or they haven’t read anything about (Kight’s property) or Googled it, this thing is going to turn up.”

A Realtor’s perspective

Karen Schaaf, a real estate professional at ReMax Equity Group in Gresham, pulled up the Kight property on the regional Multiple Listing Service, which agents use to research properties.

“I don’t see anything here that would alert me … that would let me know this is anything other than a straight-forward sale,” Schaaf said Wednesday, Oct. 30.

She added it’s up to the seller to disclose to the real estate agent if there is something wrong with the structures on the property.

“If everything adds up, I would have no reason to believe there is anything that’s wrong with it unless the seller discloses it,” she said.

However, Schaaf, a Corbett resident and former president of the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce (which Kight was affiliated with during his time as mayor) knows the property’s backstory.

Schaaf said selling Kight’s property is going to be difficult.

However, she said, “If I were a buyer, would I say don’t purchase that home? No. It’s a beautiful home and beautiful location, a wonderful opportunity to live on a river close to downtown Troutdale.”

She added, “I would tell (buyers) the auxiliary building does have some permitting issues that need to be resolved. I’d want those to be resolved before (the buyer) actually takes possession of the property. But I would not discourage anyone who loves that property from wanting to purchase it. I’d let the seller know, when we get this all cleared up, it’s a really beautiful property.”