A city work crew began last Friday to remove parking improvements on a section of Main Avenue at the intersection with Locust Street, in order to comply with a court ruling in a property dispute.
The property in question is a 25-foot strip of land, part of a lot owned by Dave and Sandy Marlow of Sisters. The city in 2009 widened Main Avenue, put in diagonal parking, and built sidewalk on the property.
Court documents note that "at the time of the execution of the agreement, all parties believed that (the City) owned the 140-foot by 25-foot strip abutting the south boundary (of the property)."
The City and the Marlows signed a reimbursement agreement in January 2011, requiring the property owner to reimburse the city for the improvements at the time of the sale or development of the property. The parking and sidewalks would have benefitted the property owners if the property had been developed, Judge Alta Brady notes.
Tax assessor maps proved to be in error regarding ownership, leaving the improvements to be made on Main Avenue based on what the court calls "a mutual mistake."
According to the Marlows, the mistake was discovered some three-plus years ago when the Marlows were planning to do some improvements on the property. Sandy Marlow said the city administration at that time was not responsive and sent the matter into the courts.
Judge Brady noted in her rulings that it is "perplexing" that the parties couldn't come to a settlement resolution on the matter.
Sandy Marlow told The Nugget that the Marlows would prefer to keep the improvements. She said their desired outcome is for the City of Sisters to pay them fair market value for the property.
"They do not want to pay us at all," she said.
City Manager Andrew Gorayeb told The Nugget that "The City and it's insurer have repeatedly made attempts to settle this and we even attempted to extend the time for removal of the improvements, both to no avail. In order to comply with the order, we are removing the improvements starting (Friday)."
The city removed the parking and sidewalk and will be required to pay $634 for two trees that were removed, a "prevailing party fee" of $550; $2,131.60 in "fees and disbursements" and $30,000 in attorney's fees.