Couple blamed city for 2011 landslide

The Wilsonville City Council moved recently to end a two-year legal fight with a local property owner centering on erosion on his riverfront lot, an unauthorized drainage pipe and neighbors’ complaints.

Under a settlement approved unanimously by the city council on June 17, the city will pay to remove an unauthorized drainage pipe installed on property owned by Sam and Christine Caruso in the Morey’s Landing neighborhood of Wilsonville. The city also agreed to design and construct a retaining wall along the drainage channel to prevent a repeat occurrence of the erosion that led to the dispute.

“We went over all this in executive session,” Wilsonville City Attorney Mike Kohlhoff said. “We can’t take action in executive session, so we brought it forward to take action tonight.”

The matter kicked off when the Carusos were hit with a landslide on their property in June 2011. The slide came after the failure of a stormwater drainage channel running through their property down to the river.

In response, the couple hired a crew to install a large drainage pipe in the channel. The pipe, however, extended onto property overseen by the Morey’s Landing Homeowners Association and led to complaints from neighboring residents upset over truck traffic generated by the construction.

Further complaints to the city of Wilsonville led to a stop work order being issued by a city building inspector.

And because the Willamette River was involved, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers became embroiled in the situation, along with the Oregon Department of State Lands.

The Corps of Engineers subsequently issued a letter requiring the Carusos to remove the unpermitted drainage pipe before June 1, 2013.

But in October 2011, the Carusos filed a lawsuit against the city of Wilsonville alleging the city had failed to adequately maintain the stormwater drainage channel. The suit alleged that this led to the landslide on the couple’s property.

A supplementary tort claim was filed by the Carusos’ legal team in April. Settlement talks came shortly after that and were finalized in June.

In return for the city’s action on the matter, the settlement calls for the Carusos to not make any alterations to the land, retaining wall or other elements of the newly repaired stormwater channel.

The city is responsible for maintaining the refurbished drainage channel, but will be relieved of that responsibility should the Carusos alter the retaining wall or structural fill without written consent.

Finally, as soon as work is completed, as required by the DSL and Corps of Engineers, the Carusos and their attorney, Jeff Kleinman, will immediately withdraw all tort claim notices made against the city.

Contract Publishing

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