Master plumber to conduct roof drain surveysSkip Hauke, owner of the property believed to be at the heart of the land movement issue in Uppertown, has applied for a city permit to refill the material cut away from the hillside that has been creeping along slowly for most of the spring and summer.

The action follows a recommendation by a Portland geotechnical firm, which found that the only way to stop the land movement in Uppertown would be to replace what was removed in the excavation project on Lief Erikson Drive near 33rd Street.

The base of the hill was cleared out to make room for a commercial property, with the rest of the hill supported by a retaining wall. Soon after the excavation was completed in the spring, homeowners on the hill above the excavation noticed cracks appearing in their driveways and walls. Several homes were extensively damaged and at least half a dozen families moved out of their homes, which became threatened by the land movement.

And, as the rainy season approaches, many homeowners are still worried that the land movement could still become a full-on slide.

At a meeting of the Astoria City Council Monday night, City Manager Dan Bartlett reported that Hauke applied for a fill permit to place approximately 10,000 tons of rock at the site, and a geotechnical report for the project. Bartlett said as soon as the city's consultant on the land movement, Landslide Technology, signs off on the project the city will approve it.

Once the city approves the permit, Bartlett said, Hauke has indicated he could begin work as soon as possible.

"Can you be more specific?," asked Mayor Willis Van Dusen. "I mean it's raining up there. It's not a fun situation."

Public Works Director Mitch Mitchum said Hauke's engineers are meeting with the city's consultant today and the plan should be finalized soon, possibly by the middle of next week.

After the report on the land movement, though a few home owners who attended the meeting weren't encouraged by what they see as a slow pace by the city in making sure something gets done about the land movement.

Gail Johnson, who lives near Harrison Avenue and 33rd Street, said she's been noticing more signs of the land movement and complained of a lack of progress.

"It's just been very frustrating," she said.

Larry Allen, who no longer lives on his Grand Avenue home, said the city has been promising action throughout the autumn and yet nothing seems to get done.

"Here we sit ... it's supposed to rain all week," he said.

Mitchum said the rain shouldn't bring the hill to a dangerous level of saturation, according to Landslide Technology. But he said in these situations there isn't always a certain answer.

Other developments include the city contacting a master plumber who has volunteered to conduct roof drain surveys within the land movement area. The roof drains are hoped to connect gutters to the city's storm water system, thereby avoiding unnecessary rain water in the hillside. Those interested in the service are asked to call Cindy Maynard at the city public works department (338-5173).

Mitchum said the city will continue to monitor the area for any signs of movement after the fill work has been completed.

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