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Fee fight further tangles land deal.

Byline: Christian Wihtol The Register-Guard

A lawsuit over attorney fees may hold up and complicate the city of Eugene's pending $1.75 million purchase of forestland in the Amazon Creek headwaters.

In the lawsuit filed in Lane County Circuit Court, Eugene land use attorney Bill Kloos seeks $47,000 for his work representing the land's former owners, Lesley and Martin Beverly of Eugene. Kloos also seeks the legal right to place a lien on the property and, if the lien is not paid, to foreclose on it. The current owner is a business group headed by Springfield accountant James Youel.

The Eugene City Council on Nov. 24 agreed to buy the 26 acres for $1.75 million from Youel and his company, Dynasty Holdings LLC. City Attorney Glenn Klein said the city still is researching the property, including what liens or other complications might burden it, and has not yet deposited money in escrow or closed on the sale.

He declined to say whether the city will delay purchase until the Kloos lawsuit is resolved. However, typically a buyer is reluctant to move ahead on a purchase if there are unresolved liens or lawsuits affecting the property.

The lawsuit flows from the tangled history of the land off the south end of West Amazon Drive in southeast Eugene.

For years the property was owned by the Beverlys, who in the face of vigorous neighborhood opposition repeatedly tried to win city approval to build homes on the steep, stream-laced land. The couple in late 2013 finally secured partial development rights in an Oregon Court of Appeals ruling.

But the couple also were struggling to keep up with mortgage payments on the property, and in July handed the property over to the debt holder - Dynasty - in lieu of foreclosure, according to legal and property records filed with Lane County. The Beverlys owed roughly $855,000 on the property, according to Kloos' lawsuit.

Within five months, Dynasty agreed to sell to the city.

Kloos and the Beverlys could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit. Youel declined to comment but said he had retained an attorney.

In the lawsuit, Kloos said that in 2012 he agreed to handle legal aspects of the Beverlys' development proposal on a contingency basis, under which he would be paid only if the Beverlys sold the property. The lawsuit states Kloos is entitled to 10 percent of net sale proceeds under the agreement. Working on contingency, Kloos then prevailed in the development rights appeal before the Oregon Court of Appeals.

In his lawsuit, Kloos said the Beverlys are scheduled to receive $500,000 from the city's planned $1.75 million purchase of the property from Dynasty. After taking into account property taxes due, Kloos said he was owed 10 percent of the remaining amount.

He also argued that under Oregon law, he's entitled to place an attorney's lien on the property, even though it is now owned by Dynasty, not by the Beverlys.

The Beverlys and Dynasty have not yet filed answers to the complaint.

Under the deal approved by the council, the city will pay $1.1 million to buy two parcels totalling 15 acres, and the Be Noble Foundation and the Lane County Audubon Society will pay $650,000 to buy the remaining parcel of 11 acres, Klein said. The foundation will provide $625,000 of that, and the Audubon Society the rest.

The Be Noble Foundation is run by Deborah and Peter Noble, who live and own property next to the Dynasty site.

Klein said the purchases are structured as a package with each purchase contingent on the other going through.

At the time of the Nov. 24 council vote, the city was expecting to complete the purchase by late January.

Follow Christian on Twitter @ChristianWihtol. Email christian.wihtol@registerguard.com.

In the lawsuit, Kloos said that in 2012 he agreed to handle legal aspects of the Beverlys' development proposal on a contingency basis, under which he would be paid only if the Beverlys sold the property. The lawsuit states Kloos is entitled to 10 percent of net sale proceeds under the agreement. Working on contingency, Kloos then prevailed in the development rights appeal before the Oregon Court of Appeals.

In his lawsuit, Kloos said the Beverlys are scheduled to receive $500,000 from the city's planned $1.75 million purchase of the property from Dynasty. After taking into account property taxes due, Kloos said he was owed 10 percent of the remaining amount.

He also argued that under Oregon law, he's entitled to place an attorney's lien on the property, even though it is now owned by Dynasty, not by the Beverlys.

The Beverlys and Dynasty have not yet filed answers to the complaint.

Under the deal approved by the council, the city will pay $1.1 million to buy two parcels totalling 15 acres, and the Be Noble Foundation and the Lane County Audubon Society will pay $650,000 to buy the remaining parcel of 11 acres, Klein said. The foundation will provide $625,000 of that, and the Audubon Society the rest.

The Be Noble Foundation is run by Deborah and Peter Noble, who live and own property next to the Dynasty site.

Klein said the purchases are structured as a package with each purchase contingent on the other going through.

At the time of the Nov. 24 council vote, the city was expecting to complete the purchase by late January.

Follow Christian on Twitter @ChristianWihtol. Email christian.wihtol@registerguard.com.
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Title Annotation:Local News; A land use attorney aims to place a lien on property the city of Eugene hopes to buy at Amazon Creek
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 11, 2015
Words:920
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