Pretty much at the last minute, an appeal has been filed against the Albany City Council’s decision to allow the demolition of three dilapidated old houses in the Monteith Historic District.
The council voted 4-2 on Oct. 10 to allow homebuilders Mark and Tina Siegner to raze the three structures on one tax lot on the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Calapooia Street, but not for 90 days.
The Siegners have put up signs offering to sell the structures for a dollar to anyone who can remove them by Nov. 11, 2019, the earliest date for the demolition under the council’s action.
The deadline for appealing the council’s decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals was Nov. 1. At LUBA’s office in Salem, the person who answered the phone on Friday (Nov. 2) said the appeal had just come in, by certified mail dated Oct. 31.
The paperwork was filed by Carrie Richter, an attorney with the Portland law firm Bateman Seidel, which specializes in land use cases. It was filed on behalf of Bernadette Niederer, one of the people who testified against the Siegners’ demolition request at the Oct. 10 council hearing.
Her online profile identifies Bernadette Niederer as a professional consultant on historic preservation and the vice president of the Monteith Historical Society.
LUBA says the city of Albany now has 21 days to assemble and submit a record of the case. Niederer then has 21 days to file a brief, followed by 21 days for Albany to file a response. After that, barring some other resolution before then, the case will be set for oral argument in Salem.
The Signs of Victory Mission had been using the three structures to house otherwise homeless people when the city of Albany last year evicted the residents and boarded up the places, posting them as “dangerous buildings” unfit to be occupied.
The Siegners bought the property this past February for $85,000. They hoped to either renovate them or replace them with new housing. Mark and his father mucked out the houses of accumulated debris.
Then they determined that restoring the structures as potential rentals would cost far too much, so they applied for permission to demolish. The Albany Landmarks Advisory Commission rejected the request, in effect staying the demolition by a year. Then the council took the case and voted that the demolition could take place after three months. At least one councilor said the waiting period was to allow for a chance to save at least one of the buildings, said to date from 1858, perhaps by moving it off the site.
Now that LUBA is involved, there’s no telling what will happen to the houses and the site, or how long reaching a final disposition will take. (hh)