Cottage Grove sentinel. (Cottage Grove, Or.) 1909-current, February 21, 2018, Page 9A, Image 9

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    COTTAGE GROVE SENTINEL FEBRUARY 21, 2018
City purchases
dog parks
Youth council reaches out to mayors
(From left) Don Williams, Cindy Weeldreyer, Tom Munroe, Karen Munsell,
Richard Meyers, Scott Shepherd and Krista Parent.
law and now, they want to make
By Caitlyn May
sure it’s followed.
cmay@cgsentinel.com
House Bill 3030 was passed
During the 2017 Oregon Leg- during the last session after Rep.
islative Session, the Cottage Cedric Hayden agreed to work
Grove Youth Advisory Com- with YAC, the city and commu-
mittee (YAC) managed to see nity members to take on the use
a bill through from concept to of nitrous oxide by minors. The
LORANE NEWS
Final district Battle of the Books is this Friday, February 23
beginning at 2:30 p.m. in the Applegate Elementary gym. Win-
ner will represent the school.
Come out to Lorane Grange this Friday, Feb. 23 for a Barn
Dance from 7 -10 p.m. A dance for all ages with $10 for the
caller.
Then on Saturday, Ladies from the Rebekah Lodge are having
a bake sale at their hall from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Come out and get
some delicious goodies.
Crow Grange is holding an English Country Dance at 3 p.m.
at their hall. Enjoy learning for all ages and even wear era cos-
tumes if you would like. After you get all that exercise, head over
to Lirane Grange for a wonderful dinner.
Lorane Grange Spaghetti Dinner and Bingo is this Saturday,
Feb. 24 starting at 5:30 p.m. for dinner and 6:30 p.m. for bingo.
Had a great turnout last month, hope to see you all again. Din-
ner $6 for adults, $3 children 8 and under. If you only come for
bingo, $2 for dessert and beverages.
Next Lorane Grange meeting is March 1, at 7 p.m.
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Fax: 541.942.6483
bill prohibits the sale of nitrous
oxide, also known as whippets,
to individuals under the age of
21.
After the law went into effect
this year, YAC reached out to
Oregon’s mayors.
“They felt it was important
to write a letter,” city manager
Richard Meyers said. The group
sent a letter detailing its efforts,
the path of the bill through the
legislature and the consequenc-
es of breaking the new law to
all 239 mayors in the state. As
of Feb. 15, the mayor of Spring-
fi eld responded to the group.
HB 3030 began when Cottage
Grove resident Karen Munsell
went before the city council
detailing the harmful effects
of nitrous oxide. The canisters
were routinely sold at tobacco
shops and convenience stores
for 99 cents each and provide a
quick, dangerous high for users.
The canisters are intended to be
used in baking. However, their
low price point and easy-to-use
nature saw them being used to
get high.
Munsell spoke with several
community members including
police chief Scott Shepherd,
former mayor Tom Munroe,
former superintendent Krista
Parent and Meyers to work on
legislation to ban the use of the
canisters.
During her speech at a council
meeting concerning the issue, a
YAC member took interest and
brought the matter to the rest
of the group. Under Meyers’
guidance and with help from the
community, the group was able
to catch the attention of Hayden
and spearheaded the issue, testi-
fying before state legislators.
The law, which went into ef-
fect in Jan. 1 imposes penalties
against store owners who are
caught selling the product to
minors.
By Caitlyn May
cmay@cgsentinel.com
The empty lot across the street from Cottage Grove High School
has gone to the dogs.
A dog park is in the works for the property which the city pur-
chased from Lane County for approximately $36,000. The land had
been the topic of discussion between the city and county for nearly
three years, according to city manager Richard Meyers.
The purchase would bring the grand total of Cottage Grove dog
parks to two. Lulu’s, located on Main St., opened last year and has
served as the city’s only dog park. However, with the purchase of
the county lot, the city is doubling its dog park inventory.
“We’re also getting Lulu’s,” Meyers said. The city has promised
to keep Lulu’s a dog park for at least fi ve years and has paid $7,000
for the property on Main St.
“Lulu’s fi ts several times inside the property of the new dog park
so it will be nice to have the two parks,” Meyers said, noting that
sketches for the new dog park are already being drawn up.
The current plan is to separate the lot across from the high school
into two parks; one for large dogs and one for small dogs. They’ll
also be a watering station in the center where the two parks meet.
The lot across from the high school is often used for parking
during popular events such as graduation. Meyers said the city plans
to fence in the area as the initial stage in constructing the dog park.
Zombie houses
Continued from A1
left offi cials with few options
other than to declare the house
a nuisance and continue to send
letters to owners who had al-
ready left town and stopped pay-
ing the mortgage on the home.
The letters hardly ever elicited a
response when the owners could
be found and when ownership
was a mystery, there were even
fewer options for the city.
“There are loopholes,” Mey-
ers said. “They should have to
register the owner.”
The house on Adams is still
listed on county tax roles as be-
longing to a family trust. How-
ever, several fi nancial institu-
tions have had their stakes in the
house as well, leaving the city to
wade through records to deter-
mine who is responsible for the
property.
On Feb. 12 when the garage
caught fi re and threatened the
tree line that separated it from
a block of neighbors, months
of council discussions on how
to handle zombie houses boiled
over.
According to Meyers, city
law enforcement has a person of
interest they are hoping to speak
to concerning the fi re. Cottage
Grove Police Chief Scott Shep-
herd was unavailable as of press
time.
The empty house and a string
of fi res, according to Meyers,
met on Adams that day.
After the reported suspect(s)
is caught and the damage re-
paired to the house, what can
the city do about the small army
of zombie houses? Not much
and it’s not alone.
Cities across the country are
still wringing their hands over
the lots of empty houses left
over from the great recession.
In 2016, the city of Portland
foreclosed on its fi rst house in
nearly half a century after 24
years of complaints and more
than $66,000 in liens against
the property. A code change that
allowed homes to be sold for
market value, rather than the to-
tal cost of the liens, was cited as
the driving factor in the home’s
foreclosure (and four others)
but it still left the city with more
than 400 empty houses.
According to county records,
Cottage Grove currently has 10
foreclosed homes but that num-
ber does not include homes that
have not yet begun the offi cial
foreclosure process but have
already been abandoned by
homeowners, making it diffi cult
to pinpoint exactly how many of
these homes fall into the zombie
home category. In 2017, Lane
County sent 15 empty homes in
Cottage Grove up for auction.
“People could be living in
them just like you or I live in
them, taking care of them and so
it’s not a problem. We fi nd out
when it’s a problem,” Meyers
told the council in November.
As of Feb. 16, he said the city
is “watching” approximately
fi ve zombie homes.
At the end of last year, city
offi cials worked with their at-
torneys to address a house on
6th St. that had begun to pose a
public health threat. The house
had been abandoned years be-
fore and by 2017, several indi-
viduals were living in the home.
Meyers said the city refused
to turn the water on to the house
without a rental agreement but
electricity was provided by
an outside company. Law en-
forcement offi cials throughout
the state are encountering in-
dividuals who have illegally
taken possession of homes in
foreclosure due to the advice of
several websites that detail how
to use “squatters rights.” How-
ever, Oregon law maintains that
a squatter must prove that they
have used the home openly for
at least 10 years and has reason
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to believe they own the home.
The law does not cover people
who are aware they are trespass-
ing on the property.
In the case of the house on
6th St., law enforcement had
visited the property at least 30
times, according to Meyers, and
the individuals were aware they
were not legally allowed inside
the home. Offi cials were able to
contact the owner of the home
and strike a deal: the city would
lease the home for $12 a year,
enabling offi cials to clear the
property.
More than a month after re-
moving the squatters, clean-up
crews are still working.
“Rats,” Meyers said. An
infestation of rodents had re-
portedly grown to the point it
impeded the clean-up process.
“We can’t go in and remove all
the trash because the rats might
run and scatter into neighbors’
yards and the sewer system,”
Meyers said. “So we’re remov-
ing a layer of trash and having
the exterminator come in and
then removing another layer.”
According to Meyers, the de-
fault exterminator fell ill at the
sight of the house and his man-
ager had to be brought in to han-
dle the clean-up.
The cost of the extensive
clean-up, which includes stor-
ing the property left behind by
the squatters in adherence to
state law, initially fell to the city.
However, according to Meyers,
plans were in place to bill the
bank that owned the property
and shortly after abatement on
the house started, so did the
long-delayed foreclosure pro-
cess.
Meyers plans to send a bill
to the responsible party for the
house on Adams Ave. as well
and bring an item before the city
council in an attempt to take
possession of the house.
The “receivership” method
was discussed during the No-
vember council meeting as a
possible fi x for the 6th St. house
before being set aside for the
lease deal. Essentially, accord-
ing to the city attorney, the city
would take possession of the
house as a result of the multi-
ple liens against the property as
well as the numerous visits by
local police.
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