They are subject of probes into permit approval of former mayor's accessory structure

Two Troutdale city officials are on paid administrative leave in the wake of ongoing investigations into a controversial building constructed by former Mayor Jim Kight.

Building official Dick Bowman and Rich Faith, community development director, have been placed on “non-disciplinary, paid administrative leave,” said Troutdale City Manager Craig Ward.

Both leaves are the result of last summer’s City Council initiated investigation into a 2,000-square-foot building that Kight had built next to his house on Jackson Park Road while he was mayor.

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

Troutdale city councilors, however, called the building a house, complete with an unfinished basement. The council commissioned an independent investigation conducted last summer, which the council said showed that 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.

The structure is next to his existing house on Jackson Park Road, and the property that both buildings are on is zoned as single-family residential.

Kight’s property is along Beaver Creek, an off-shoot of the Sandy River, and as such is in a flood plain. Dwellings in a flood plain can’t have basements — and Kight’s structure has an unfinished basement, two offices, a bathroom and a kitchen.

Last summer’s investigation was forwarded to numerous government agencies that oversee everything from zoning to state licensure of city officials to flood-plain issues, including the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Those agencies are conducting their own investigations into the structure and the process under which it was built. It’s those investigations that have resulted in Bohlmann and Faith being placed on leave.

“The public is rightfully concerned how the city of Troutdale will address the issues raised by the investigation into the structure on former mayor Kight’s property,” Ward said. “Further follow-up research is under way to examine processes followed throughout the permitting and inspection of this structure. Pending the outcome of our further research Dick Bohlmann, the building official, and Rich Faith, the community development director, have been placed on non disciplinary paid administrative leave.”

As for Kight, he is no longer mayor. Residents last November voted him out of office. And last month, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission — a seven-member citizen commission that enforces government ethics law — agreed to conduct a formal inquiry into the structure.

It has scheduled a meeting about the investigation on Aug. 23.

Penalties could range from a letter of “education” to a maximum civil penalty of up to $5,000, although some outraged residents have suggested that the city order Kight to tear the structure down.

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