Unhappy with a city committee’s rejection of a request to raze three dilapidated old houses in the Monteith Historic District, the Albany City Council voted Wednesday to review the case without the applicants having to file — and pay for — an appeal.
On Sept. 5, the Landmarks Advisory Commission voted 4-1 against the demolition request by Mark and Tina Siegner, owners of three more than 100-year-old houses at Fourth and Calapooia. The effect was to delay the demolition at least till July 9, 2019.
The Siegners appeared before the council Wednesday under “business from the public.” Mark protested that the Landmarks board had ignored their evidence that restoring the houses was not economically feasible.
Since they determined that the structures they bought in February for $85,000 could not be economically restored and the Albany urban renewal program rejected their request for loans, the Siegners want to build new housing on the site, compatible with the neighborhood.
Councilwoman Bessie Johnson said the Siegners should not have to wait a year to go ahead. Councilor Bill Coburn said it appeared to him that the applicants got a raw deal. Councilor Rich Kellum, noting the “advisory” in the board’s name, moved to review the panel’s verdict. Councilor Mike Sykes joined the three in voting yes. Councilors Ray Kopczynski and Dick Olsen were opposed.
The move saves the applicants the $800-plus the city charges for filing an appeal. It also saves time. The council will hear the case at either of its two meetings in October.
Olsen went into some detail on the history of one of the houses. A few days ago, Dala Rouse, a member of the planning commission, sent me an email on the same subject. “Did a little research at courthouse today,” she wrote. “The house on Calapooia was once owned by Dr. J.L. Hill and he deeded it to his daughter Emily Hill Ward in 1908. Hill St. is named after Dr. Hill. … The records don’t show if Dr. Hill actually lived there or built the house because they didn’t go back that far.”
The council may hear more about Doctor Hill’s house when its hearing takes place. But the question is whether that or the other two houses are worth saving at what expense. And if the city wants them saved, is it willing to pay the cost? (hh)