County removes property from May auction list

The city may yet again have a chance to gain another access point to Mary S. Young State Park.

West Linn was aiming to purchase a 3-acre parcel at 4600 Mapleton Drive from the county for just $47,533 when the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners opted to put it up for public auction instead. Now, the parcel has been withdrawn from the pending auction.

The parcel is heavily treed and drops in slope about 40 to 50 feet toward Nixon Avenue. The city had hoped to construct a path or trail leading from Mapleton to the state park while leaving the rest of the property undisturbed. During a Feb. 2 special meeting, the city council voted to pursue the property at the deeply discounted price.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester, the city currently does not have good access to the park from that neighborhood and additional access to the park is included in the Robinwood neighborhood plan.

The parcel of property was approved six years ago for a seven-lot subdivision, but the development never occurred and the property fell into arrears. Clackamas County recently foreclosed on it.

The county routinely holds auctions to recoup costs on these types of properties, but typically gives municipalities first dibs if they agree to pay for back taxes and administration overhead. Then, the municipality must agree to retain the property and its designated use and cannot resell or develop the property.

During a Feb. 26 county board of commissioners meeting, the board decided to interpret the county’s policy differently by opting to put the property up for auction first with a minimum bid of $160,000.

According to a commission study session worksheet, its property resources division recommended the board approve the property transfer to West Linn. However, commissioners agreed to try to get as much value out of the property as possible by first putting it up for auction. The assessor’s real market value for the parcel is $410,175, according to the county.

According to county Property Resources Manager Rick Gruen, after conversations between West Linn and the county, the county has agreed to temporarily take the property off the May 7 auction.

“We’re kind of in a holding pattern,” Gruen said.

The county is now waiting to hear from West Linn, which can come back with a proposal at the original discounted price or perhaps a higher, more appealing price, to the commissioners.

“We want to get the property back on the tax roll,” Gruen said, adding that the county is currently looking at updating its policies and procedures regarding how properties are put up for auction. “We’re looking for a win-win situation.”

The county auction, which includes 11 other county properties, is still set for May 7.

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