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Albany waives requirement for police chief to live in city
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Albany waives requirement for police chief to live in city

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Albany Police Chief Marcia Harnden performed a minor miracle last weekend, given the current state of the local housing market: She found an affordable place to live.

But to buy it, she needed a little help from the City Council.

City policy requires that the chief live within the municipal boundaries of Albany. And when Harnden moved to Oregon from Washington, she purchased a house in North Albany with the expectation that she would enter into a long-distance arrangement with her partner, who remained in Washington with the couple's alpacas on their farm. 

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"I anticipated, when I moved here, that Shannon, my other half, would stay north," Harnden told the council on Monday. "But this job with the Oregon State University police came up, and she competed against many people and she won that job."

The new job, Harnden said, meant the couple would be reunited in Oregon, but the North Albany house, which sits on about a third of an acre, isn't suitable for the small gaggle of animals that also has to make the trip.

"We need about three to five acres to make this work," Harnden said, noting that they had been outbid twice and outpriced on several other occasions. 

Until last weekend, when the chief found what she said was a "great place" with room for the animals just outside the Albany city limits. 

"It's an unusual request," Harnden said, "but it's a sign of the times."

Harnden said the new property would provide a shorter commute than her current trek from North Albany and, in case of a major earthquake, she would already be Linn County-side, instead of across the Willamette River. 

The council approved the exception to allow Harnden to purchase the new property, but she noted she would retain the North Albany property as an investment and may allow relatives to move in. 

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