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article imageCouple faces $2,000-a-day fine for building pool in backyard

By Leigh Goessl     Jun 12, 2012 in Environment
A couple in West Linn, Oregon are currently facing a $2,000-a-day-fine for a pool they built in their backyard in 2009. The city charges the couple built the pool without a permit and that it was constructed in a protected wetland area.
According to Oregon Live, the fine is retroactive to Nov. 2009, and for each day the 1,100-square-foot pool remains on the property, an additional $2,000-a-day fine will be added on.
The couple, Troy and Gina Bundy, allege they were given permission by a former mayor to construct the pool. According to court papers [PDF - page 5], the Bundys say their initial petition to build a pool and patio was denied in 2009 by the city.
The court papers describe the pool's location as being in the "backyard close to the rear property line, within the wetland transition zone, riparian corridor and conservation easement."
In the court papers it states during July 2009 the couple invited the (then) mayor of West Linn, Patti Galle, to come visit their property. According to the Bundys, the mayor did visit the property and allegedly said, "Go ahead and put in your pool. Do not go through the city, you do not need a permit. If anyone has any questions about it, have them call me directly."
So they constructed their pool, sans a permit, with intent to do the formalities later. When this time came, the city denied the application.
Galle denies having made the statement telling the couple they could install their pool and patio.
The Bundys reportedly tried to reach a settlement, but to no avail.
Fast-forward to 2012 and West Linn is fining the couple, retroactive to 2009, and this month citations were issued to the Bundys by the West Linn Police Dept. The city is also seeking recompense for staff and legal costs. Kirsten Wyatt, the city's assistant city manager, said the fines were imposed after negotiations stalled.
"In West Linn, our community development code is a reflection of our values in regards to protecting the environment and personal property rights," Wyatt said. "It is our duty to uphold the code."
According to AOL Real Estate, the code states, "No person shall be permitted to fill, strip, install pipe, undertake construction, or in any way alter an existing water resource area without first obtaining a permit to do so," reads the town's "Water Resource Area Protection" code."
The Bundys are appealing, and pled not guilty to "prohibited use of a water resource area." The trial will take place in August.
"I'd be happy to pay a fine that's reasonable," Troy Bundy told the Oregonian. "I'd be happy to invest in a wetlands that's actually sustainable. I'd be happy to put the money wherever they want me to put it on their behalf. But what I'm saying is, let's exercise some common sense. This pool doesn't hurt anyone. It's on my property. I've bought the land. What more do you want?"
This issue has divided opinions from locals, reported AOL Real Estate. One side notes the Bundys knew about permits, but went ahead for the build anyway, while others criticize the "draconian" laws imposed.
Troy Bundy contends he would have removed the pool at the time had he been asked.
"The short story is they've never asked me to remove the pool," Bundy says. "I would have done it a long time ago ... but they never asked, so now they can't come back two and a half years later and say, well, you know, they're just going to fine me.' Fine me until what? I still can't take out the pool without a consent order or a court order."
At this point he's going to continue to fight because if he does remove the pool without a consent agreement, he cannot sue the city for the costs of removing the pool. Bundy, an attorney, plans to represent himself during this summer's trial.
More about Oregon, West Linn, Troy Bundy, Pool, backyard pool
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