Contractor tears into historic Ore. property without permit

Contractor tears into historic Ore. property without permit
Construction workers dig into the property of the historic Herman Vetter House on Southeast Taylor on Monday. According to City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, a permit to do so has not yet been approved.

PORTLAND, Ore. – A contractor and a property owner will be cited by the city of Portland for tearing up a property listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

The On Your Side Investigators confirmed Monday there aren’t any permits for that work at the Herman Vetter House on Southeast Taylor Street and brought it to the city’s attention.

An inspector went to the site Tuesday, after the holiday weekend was over, and confirmed the permits were not properly acquired.

The city’s Bureau of Development Services will fine the contractor and has placed a stop-work order on the property.

Neighbors say the work started Friday and continued over the holiday weekend. Some neighbors wondered whether someone is trying to sneak one by the city. That’s because the city shut down its hotline for reporting this kind of unpermitted work to save money.

That means any holiday weekend is open season for sidestepping regulations designed to protect everything from historic properties to trees. And once things are torn up or cut down, it's too late.
Contractors were seen jackhammering concrete in front of the home Monday.

Neighbors say they first contacted Everett Homes, the builder, last November to make sure regulations and permits were issued before work began. They were shocked when workers showed up Friday evening and continued working through the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Monday.

Police don't respond to this kind of complaint, and with the city shut down the neighborhood association had nowhere to turn as crews tore into the historic property.

“That's been destroyed. We have the original approach that's been removed, a lamppost has been removed,” said Stephanie Stewart with the Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association. “It's no longer an intact specimen, which is why it was considered so special and why it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz said: “My understanding from my director, Paul Scarlett, is that the permits have not yet been approved so construction should not be happening right now.”

The contractor showed a KATU reporter a permit number, but it turned out that number was for the application and not for any approved permit.

There's another problem with the unpermitted work. Huge trees alongside the property are believed to be the second oldest trees in Portland. Without arborists checking the property as part of the permit process, heavy equipment rolled over the tree root system, which could kill or weaken the trees.

Any outdoor construction site has to keep permits posted onsite, but there weren’t any at the location.