The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

County sells SH land so couple can cut tree


November 1, 2016

THE TALL cottonwood tree on the center right stands on property sold by the county to owners of the house to the left.

The Linn County Board of Commissioners accepted a bid for half the real market value of a foreclosed property at the end of Spruce Street in Sweet Home on Oct. 25.

The commissioners were sympathetic to the bidders, who wanted to purchase tax lot 8200 because it is the only way to access their home, which is on a neighboring property they bought in July of 2015.

Jim and Lubirda Self offered $1,500 for the lot, which was appraised by Linn County at $3,800, because of the costs they will incur trimming a large tree.

A large cottonwood tree more than four stories high and 40 inches across the stump stands on tax lot 8200, they said.

“It is hazardous to our new construction home as well as to human life, as there are a number of gigantic limbs that are subject to break off and crash into our home,” the Selfs said in a letter included with their bid.

They got several estimates to have the tree removed, but said City of Sweet Home staff said it could not be removed, due to its placement.

In a later conversation, Lubirda Self said the contractors they got estimates from contacted the city; she did not.

City planning assistant Katie Wilcox remembers being contacted by a tree care service.

The property is located in a riparian zone. According to city ordinance Chapter 17.72: Natural Resources, some actions, such as removal of native vegetation, are subject to review.

The city manager or public works director would be involved in that decision.

“I like the idea that we try to stay out of private property,” Wilcox said.

In December of 2015, it was determined that the property was owned by the county, not the city, according to a memo from Linn County General Services Director Russell Williams.

The Selfs expressed interest in buying the lot at that time, according to Williams’ memo. The county’s attorney determined they could not sell the property until it was part of the tax roll.

The Selfs put in a bid when the property became available.

At the time of the vote, the commissioners did not know the reasons the tree could not be removed but discussed possible reasons and solutions.

Commissioner Will Tucker moved to approve the sale.

Commissioner Roger Nyquist said they could vote but the Selfs were stuck with $3,000 additional expenditure they hadn’t planned on and he wanted to solve the problem.

“Does the city of Sweet Home have some tree ordinance that prevents the cutting down of this worthless, no-good cotton tree?” he asked.

Tucker agreed that the cottonwood is close to worthless.

There was some back and forth between the commissioners about reducing the price or helping with the cost of tree removal.

“(The) motion’s out there,” Tucker said. “$1,500 if they ask us to help them defer the cost of that tree, I’d be happy to consider it, but they’ve offered.

“Their letter says they’re aware of the cost, they’ve made their offer in light of their knowledge of that cost.”

The motion passed with the clarification that, if asked, the county would split the cost of removal of that tree, if possible.

“I love selling pieces of property that are streets or alleys,” Tucker said.

“I love getting those things off our books. Tree or no tree.”


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