One pricey pool
City levies hefty fines for couple who built pool near a wetland
What was supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable backyard amenity has been nothing but a headache for a West Linn family and the city of West Linn.
The city and Troy and Gina Bundy have been at odds over the installation of a swimming pool in a restricted area since 2010. In an effort to move toward a resolution, the city has slapped a $1,000-a-day fine against each of the Bundys for what the city calls an ongoing code violation.
When the couple applied for a permit, they had already installed the pool, along with a patio, footbridges and a brick wall.
They said then-mayor Patti Galle told them it was OK to put in a pool but discovered later they needed a special permit to build near wetlands. Their house is sandwiched between two wetland areas.
The city acquired a conservation easement on the property in 2001, two years before the Bundys moved in. This easement limits how the Bundys use their backyard.
West Linn Planning Director John Sonnen denied their subsequent application to build in a sensitive water resources area. When the couple appealed, the city council upheld Sonnen's decision.
The Bundys then took their case to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, which has authority to review governmental land-use decisions. LUBA supported the city's denial.
Part of the city's reasoning for denial was it deemed the swimming pool as a structure and not a 'passive' recreation facility, which is sometimes allowed in water resource areas. The Bundys, however, contended the pool was passive because it lacked organized recreational activities.
As a result, the city wants the pool removed and the backyard restored.
When the pool was dug out, the contractors dumped the fill into a wetland behind the home in an area owned by Portland General Electric. Since that time, the Bundys have worked to restore that wetland area.
Since June 2011, the city and the Bundys have been negotiating a timeline for pool removal and remediation without any resolution. Because there was no progress in the negotiations, the city's attorney recommended pursuing a different route. Thus, the hefty daily citations.
The citations were delivered May 25 and the arraignment was set for today at 11 a.m. However, the Bundys entered an early plea of not-guilty. The tentative trial date is set for August. Troy Bundy, who is an attorny, will be representing himself.
The city of West Linn wants the Bundys to remove their pool and recoup city costs involved in addressing the manner. Although the city could not give an exact amount of its costs associated with this case, Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt said the amount was substantial.
Had the Bundys pleaded guilty at the arraignment, negotiations would have restarted.
'We would be starting afresh and going in a new direction. A new line has been drawn in the sand,' Wyatt said.
Since the Bundys have pleaded not-guilty, the courts will decide what, if any, fines will be paid and a timeline to remove the pool.
Calls to the Bundys were not returned.