Anyone who’s gone down Stanley Avenue in the past month can’t miss seeing the sign challenging the city of Milwaukie on its requirement to build a rain garden or drywell as part of a home’s construction.

by: PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - City of Milwaukie officials say Clyde Abston cant complete his house until he builds sidewalks and a rain garden along a short stretch of Stanley Avenue.Someone named “Gary” and the city’s Planning Commission are holding the property “hostage,” the sign contends. Those allegations had Planning Commission members shaking their heads in disbelief because the governmental body had never considered any permits related to Clyde Abston’s property at 10607 S.E. Stanley Ave. Abston, 75, meant to call out the Milwaukie Planning Department, and the “Gary” refers to Gary Parkin, who was representing the engineering department in sending Abston a letter about the requirements. Planning officials weigh in on engineering’s public-works standards.

Despite the convoluted sign, Abston plans to keep up his fight against City Hall. Although the city said his permit would expire Feb. 25 if he doesn’t complete the street work, Abston argued that his street, with fewer than 500 cars a day, should not be defined as a “collector street” with that designation’s required infrustructure. Abston hired an engineer who said he “cannot condone the obviously slanted decisions” of the city.

“What do you suppose this street will look like with no sidewalks, no curbs and only a 9-foot-wide half street when (only) one house has sidewalks, a rain garden in the boulevard, curbs and an 18-foot-wide half street?” Abston asked.

Abston said that the city offered to have him pay $13,000 instead of building the street infrastructure, but he fired back with a counter offer, saying that it was only worth $1,000. When his duplex burned down a few years ago, Abston originally wanted to rebuild it, but was forced to build a single-family house when he couldn’t prove that it had been a duplex in 1962 when the property was annexed into the city.

City spokesman Grady Wheeler confirmed that Abston’s inspection had been on hold until he completes the required improvements. Wheeler couldn’t comment further due to the likelihood of litigation.

UPDATE: After the Clackamas Review press deadline, Abston said this week that he is moving on with the construction of his house after the city’s final inspection. His saga continues, however, because he had sent the city a list of all the costs associated with construction delays, including vandalism and theft on the construction site. He said he will probably agree to the city’s counter offer of him paying $2,500 and agreeing not to sue.

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