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Local News: A response from Mill Pond residents to city sale of pier lots

A response from Mill Pond residents in Astoria to a city council decision earlier this month that will allow additional construction in their neighborhood. (Script below, scroll down to Listen)

By Joanne Rideout

Near the end of Monday night’s Astoria City Council meeting, the city got some push back regarding a decision they made at their last meeting. It happened during the routine public comment period, when citizens can address topics not included in the current agenda.

Mill Pond resident John Ryan came to the microphone. He was speaking about the city’s recent vote to sell platted over-the-water lots in the Mill Pond neighborhood, over the objections of residents there, who opposed the sale, saying they want to preserve views and habitat for wildlife.

Ryan: “And uh, we’ve been advised that if the city proceeds along with this sale, that we may take a opportunity by an attorney to do an injunction because of non-compliance for sale of public property, on the, uh, on this site.”

The council voted 3-2 at their last meeting to approve selling the property to developer John Dulcich. Residences would be built on piers over the pond. The council’s decision was partly motivated by the tax revenue the city would gain from private ownership of the lots.

Councilors Joan Herman and Jessamyn Grace West voted against the sale. Currently the city owns the lots and incurs costs to maintain it. Mill Pond residents had offered to reimburse the city for its costs for decommissioning the lots and leaving them undeveloped.

Oregon developer Art DeMuro originally designed the Mill Pond neighborhood, and donated two platted piers to the city before his death in 2012. Each pier contains six buildable lots. The city had no takers when it first tried to sell the properties, and has so far paid more than $64,000 in fees to the homeowners association, with $13,000 more budgeted for this fiscal year, according to the Astorian newspaper.

A group of Mill Pond residents had proposed donating additional funds to the city to have the pier lots dedicated as a park. When Dulcich offered to buy the lots, the city decided to go that route to bring in needed tax revenue.

The next Astoria City Council meeting is happening December 2, at 7 pm, in the city hall council chambers at 1095 Duane Street. I’m Joanne Rideout reporting.