Agreement ends two-year battle between city and couple

Ending a two-year battle with the city of West Linn, a family has agreed to remove its backyard pool and patio.

In an Oct. 4 email to the city, Troy Bundy wrote that he and his wife have arranged to begin the removal of their pool and patio and restore their backyard to its previous condition. The process should be completed in three months, he wrote.

A municipal judge ruled Sept. 24 that Troy and Gina Bundy must pay $72,000 in fines or remove their pool and restore their property within 90 days for the fine to be reduced to $18,000.

The Bundys first appeared in municipal court Sept. 4 and 5. The couple has been battling over the pool with the city of West Linn for several years. The pool and patio were installed without a permit in a sensitive water resources area.

Since the city was made aware of the pool’s existence in 2010, staff has been trying to get the pool removed.

“It has been our objective to have the Bundys remove the pool. We are pleased the Bundys seem to be doing that,” City Manager Chris Jordan said.

In a Sept. 10 decision, West Linn Municipal Court Judge Heather Karabeika found the Bundys in violation of the city’s community development code, leaving the Bundys facing a fine of up to $360,000.

In court Sept. 20, the city attorney, Rhett Bernstein, recommended two options.

The first option was a reduction of the fine to $180,000. The second option was if the Bundys agreed to remove the pool and restore their property within 90 days, to further reduce the fine to $90,000.

Although the Bundys have been in violation of city code since the pool was installed in 2009, the statute of limitations restricts the fines to six months prior to the issuance of the citations. The citations were issued May 25.

Bundy, an attorney representing his wife and himself, filed a motion to dismiss the case, alleging fraud on the court. He declared he had a permit the entire time but the city kept it hidden from him.

Bundy contested that a document admitted in court as an exhibit was a permit application marked approved and dated Oct. 20, 2009. He said they have never been in violation because they had a permit the whole time.

Bernstein argued, however, that the document approved just the schematics of the pool, not the location of the pool.

Since the document was not new evidence, the judge determined it was not cause enough for a retrial.

Their house, located at 1215 Ninth St., is sandwiched between two wetland areas. Since 2001 — two years before the Bundys moved in — the city has had a conservation easement on the property that also limits its use.

The Bundys admitted in court that they installed the pool and the patio on their property before receiving the proper permits. After an application was submitted, city staff members denied the permit. The Bundys then took the appeal to the city council and then to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals. The denial was upheld each time.

Since June 2011, the city and the Bundys have been negotiating a timeline for the pool’s removal and remediation without any resolution.

During court testimony, the Bundys contended the city made the pool installation process confusing, tricky and cumbersome. They also argued that the area behind their home, which is owned by Portland General Electric, is not a wetland by the city’s definition and that it is a manmade wetland. They also laid blame on city staff as well as a former mayor for misinformation and discrimination.

The judge found all of those claims to be without warrant.

The court found that the Bundy’s home falls within a water resource area and that a special permit is needed to build a pool. The judge also found the Bundys were aware of the need for the permit before construction started.

Bundy brought up several concerns about the trial and how it was conducted during the disposition Sept. 20. Some of those the judge called “outrageous allegations.”

He fought against what he saw as excessive fines, questioned the double citations, one against him and one against his wife and said due process was not followed and that they were denied a jury trial.

The Bundys have poured a large sum of money into the pool installation and its aftermath. Bundy listed past and future expenses at $100,000 for pool installation for which he took out a loan, a planting plan and permits for revision at about $3,500, a Department of State Lands fine of $3,000, the purchase of $2,500 in mitigation credits from the wetland bank, a projected cost of $15,000-$20,000 to remove the pool and restore the property, an estimated $65,000 in attorney fees.

The Bundys declined to comment.