April 29 2011

Council hears grievances about ODOT bypass property dealings  

By: Amanda Newman  Published: 4/23/2011 8:00:00 AM

  The principal discussion of Monday night’s meeting of the Newberg City Council came not under an agenda item but in the public comment period, after individuals who own property in the Newberg-Dundee bypass corridor came forward to discuss difficulties they have had with the property acquisition process.
   Katherine Callahan told the council that the offer she has received from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) for her property is so low that she cannot afford a comparable property. She has operated a catering business out of her home of 22 years and the specific needs of the business — two kitchens, for example — make it difficult to find a comparable home. With the amount ODOT is willing to give for her property, she hasn’t been able to find a property that will fit the bill.
   Another woman, Evelyn Randall, also shared her story with the council. She recently moved from a bypass corridor property to North Plains and said that despite being unable to find a relocation property in Newberg or the surrounding areas, she was pleased with the process … after ODOT passed her on to another entity.
   She briefly dealt with ODOT at the beginning of the process and said she was given conflicting information and the agency wasn’t easy to work with. They then passed her on to HDR, an outside agency that had successfully worked with some property owners in her neighborhood. But ODOT’s contract with HDR ended in July and was not renewed, she said.
   Local real estate agent Julie Codiga, who has been working with Callahan to find a suitable property, mentioned the cases of property owners in the bypass corridor who have similar issues dealing with ODOT. She has communicated with Yamhill County Commissioner Leslie Lewis and state Sen. Larry George (R-Sherwood) about the issues and said ODOT has given them incorrect information about particulars of Callahan’s situation.
   Callahan has received a quasi-eviction notice, she said, which goes against ODOT assurances that no one will be evicted at this point. Councilor Denise Bacon said U.S. Congressman David Wu, who represents Newberg, has received a letter from ODOT stating that the agency is not evicting anyone in the bypass corridor.
   The topic of troubles in the bypass corridor property acquisition had surfaced at a previous council meeting and members of the council expressed a desire to meet with ODOT officials and discuss the situation. Some said, however, that they wanted specific examples of issues with the process — at that point all they had to go off were rumors and secondhand accounts of property owners getting the runaround.
   ODOT representatives are tentatively scheduled to meet May 2 with the council. Mayor Bob Andrews said Monday night he would extend an invitation to Wu, George and state Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) for them — or members of their staff — to also attend the meeting.
   Members of the council said they wanted to make sure Newberg citizens were being treated fairly in the property acquisition process and that ODOT wasn’t moving prematurely to evict people from their homes, particularly as construction of the bypass remains a thing of the future.
   However, city attorney Terry Mahr cautioned the council that they have no legal standing in the process — their position is purely a political one, meaning that meeting and talking with ODOT representatives is likely the best course of action.
   In the business portion of the meeting, the council voted unanimously to:
   — Allow an additional extension period for expiring subdivisions and planned developments, in light of the economy. There is already a standard extension allowed and the council passed an additional extension possibility in 2009. Developments that will soon exceed even that limit — Planning and Building Director Barton Brierley said there are four that could qualify — will have until the end of the year to apply for the additional yearlong extension.
   — Approved changes to the council rules and guidelines.
   — Approved a vision statement for the city: “Newberg will cultivate a healthy, safe environment where citizens can work, play and grow in a friendly, dynamic and diverse community valuing partnerships and opportunity.”


About KathyBlanchard, Realtor

I am a full service Realtor in Newberg, Oregon. I specialize in Yamhill County, but I can work anywhere in Oregon for your relocation needs. My family moved to this beautiful wine country in 2008 and love it here. I have a love for the history and mystery in old homes. My husband and I play golf and have logged many thousands of miles on a motorcycle.
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