Couple wants better deal on home in path of Dundee Bypass

Couple wants better deal on home in path of Dundee Bypass

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by Chris Willis, KGW Unit 8 Investigative reporter

kgw.com

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 20 at 8:54 AM

SALEM -- The new bypass now under construction in Dundee will go right through some properties that currently have homes.  Some of those homeowners told KGW they've been told they must move and they're not happy about it.

The State of Oregon will buy their homes, at fair market value, but that has become a contentious issue. Homeowners said they don't feel they're being treated fairly.

The said a man’s home is his castle. That is, unless the State of Oregon needs it. Because by law, the state can and will take it. A fact that Mike and Geri Boyce found out the hard way.

“Oh, I've told them that a dozen times,” said Mike, “We didn't come to you and ask you to buy our house, you said you needed it.”

The Boyces have lived in their home for more than a decade. Geri said the house has been in their family since 1946.

“My cousins lived here and raised their children and then we bought it from my aunt,” she said.

But now, the Oregon Department of Transportation needs the home to make way for the Dundee Bypass, which is now under construction. ODOT spokesperson Lou Torres said the bypass will relieve congestion.

“It's going to reduce congestion, it's going to improve safety and it's really going to make the livability of Newberg and Dundee better," he said.

The bypass, though, would go right through Mike and Geri’s home. And, after an appraisal, the State of Oregon offered them $137,000 for their home. The problems is, Mike is a disabled, out of work former iron worker and getting financing for a new home will be almost impossible.

The Boyces owe about $90,000 on their current mortgage so if they took the state’s offer of $137,000 they’d pay off their mortgage and be left with $47,000 but no home.

They’ve been told they might have to become renters. A possibility Mike does not like, and that’s why he declined the offer, and refused to move.

“Now be fair, treat us fair. All you've got to do, it's simple.. simple common sense, you're good to us, we're good to you but you don't come in and beat us up and then expect us to be all happy about it,” he said.

Torres said he will continue to try and work with the Boyces. “We have worked very closely with Mr. Boyce and we'll continue to do that, answer any of his questions, walk him through the process even more if we have to.”

But Torres fears the Boyce’s refusal to accept the offer will lead to a stalemate. And the process can get ugly. ODOT upped its offer to buy the Boyce’s home to $219,000, but then said if they did not accept it, they’d go back to their offer of $137,000, condemn the home, take the Boyces to court and use eminent domain to take the home.

A situation Boyce sees as a threat.”You know they back you into a corner, what are you going to do? You either fight or you run. I'm not going to run,” he said.

Mike and Geri are now defendants in court. Simply because they do not want to sell their home for less than it would take to get them into a similar home. But they may have no choice. “There is eminent domain,” said Torres, adding “essentially, we can ultimately go in and condemn the property. Bit again, like I said, that's our last resort.”

Mike said if he’s going to be forced to sell his home and move, he needs an equal place to live. He claims he’s about to start a small business in his workshop. A shop he built by himself. “We've got to have a place with a shop, I've been doing this stuff for years, got to have a place for a shop.”

Under the Uniform Act, homeowners must be treated fairly and equitably and will receive assistance in moving from the property they occupy. In the meantime, Mike and Geri have been given an ultimatum and an eviction date. But the State said it will continue to try and resolve this, as they have done with dozens of other “right of way” property owners.

“Often times it's difficult and sometimes it gets contentious," Torres said. "That's just the way right-of-way is. So we're not shocked or surprised that we have an issue like this.”

Late Tuesday, it appeared that the state’s continued efforts toward reaching a resolution may have worked. After KGW started reporting this story, we got word that Mike and Geri Boyce have accepted an offer from ODOT. Along with the $219,000, the state will assist financially with finding them a comparable home and have also agreed to help buy-down the interest rate to help them get new financing.

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