Home razed; neighborhood covenant ignored

Neighborhood zoning plans in Southwest Portland, Feb. 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Marcia Leslie lives near a small, ranch-style community with a covenant dating back to the 1950s that limited development. That’s why she’s confused and concerned why the trademark home in the neighborhood was demolished by a developer who plans to put at least three smaller homes on the one lot.

A home in the Gunther Acres neighborhood in Southwest Portland, Feb. 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
A home in the Gunther Acres neighborhood in Southwest Portland, Feb. 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

The Gunther House was part of Gunther Acres and was bulldozed several weeks ago. The neighbors are concerned about many things, including run-off, privacy and the overall change of character to the community.

“This whole thing has been questionable as to how it’s been carried out,” Leslie told KOIN 6 News. She is a representative for the Far Southwest Neighborhood Association, which includes Gunther Acres.

“Gunther built the original home which has since been demolished and in the 50’s and 60’s they subdivided an additional 12 lots and built 12 homes, and all of them complied with covenants and restrictions.”

Similar scenarios have played out in other historic neighborhoods throughout the city, with developers buying lots and subdividing them.

Kimberly Tallant, the supervising planner for the Bureau of Development Services, said if a developer is not following zoning code – specifically street access, lot size, utility and density plans — an application will be denied.

“What the neighbor’s rights are is to review the proposal and provide response to the city,” she told KOIN 6 News. Citizens can contact the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, which is updating the city’s comprehensive plan.

And that could lead to changes in the zoning code.

Neighbors in the Gunther area hired an attorney and want an injunction to force the builder to abide by the Gunther Acres original covenant.

In previous court cases, judges have sided eith neighborhoods that have covenants that are more strict than city code.

On the Net:

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Comprehensive Plan

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