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City won't pay claim
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CUBA CITY—A claim filed by Joe Biba against the city of Cuba City on March 6 was disallowed by the Cuba City Common Council on June 4.

Biba’s claim was concerning the denied rezoning of a parcel of land at 202 W. Troy St. that prevented him from purchasing and developing the property into apartments. The confusion with the zoning began when the parcel was rezoned from B-1 business to R-3 multi-family residential in the spring of 2013. It was later determined that the rezoning of that parcel was not handled properly and was not lawful because the city’s comprehensive plan was not modified before the zoning was changed. A property line dispute cropped up with the neighboring subdivision. Then, in November 2013, the common council voted down rezoning the property. The council asked that the parties involved resolve the issues with the property line dispute before that meeting and a consensus was not met.

Since the council initiated the petition at the request of the property owner, Gro Alliance LLC, the council voted to reject the request for both the amendments to the comprehensive plan as well as rezoning of the property. The process to rezone would have to start from scratch if it were to proceed. In November, the city’s attorney, Paul Johnson, recommended the council only consider the rezoning once accurate maps are secured and the property line issues are resolved.

According to Biba’s claim, “As a result of Cuba City and the Cuba City Common Council’s actions in refusing to grant the rezoning of the parcel on Nov. 6, 2013, [Biba’s] performance of his agreement with Gro Alliance LLC became impossible, the agreement’s purpose and claimant’s development was frustrated completely and, ultimately, the agreement was terminated.”

Biba was requesting the city pay $30,176.26 to cover the fees he incurred while attempting to develop the property. Damages listed in the claim include:

-$194.50, Austin Engineering

-$720, lawn care

-$1,000, earnest money

-$161.26, utilities (July, August, September)

-10,671.50, engineers

-$16,229.12, attorney fees

-$750, Dubuque Bank and Trust 1031 exchange fee

-$450, American Bank appraisal

The claim was submitted to the city’s insurance company, EMC Insurance, which hired a legal firm out of Madison to investigate the case. Attorney D. Clarke Sugar of Axley Brynelson, LLP, advised the council to present a notice of disallowance—not paying the claim—to Biba. The council unanimously made that motion following a closed session on June 4 to discuss the matter.

“The Council will take no further action unless it is required in the future due to further action by Mr. Biba,” the city’s clerk/treasurer Kathy Schultz said.

Economic development

In other news from the June 4 city council meeting, the council voted to move forward with a 4-foot by 8-foot aluminum sign that would highlight the available land in the industrial park. The sign, which is estimated to cost $791, would be seen by approximately 6,000 cars that pass by the industrial park every day. The money for the sign would come from Tax Incremental District No. 2.

The council also took action on creating promotional videos that spotlight Cuba City. Four different videos would be created for $3,500. The city’s economic development director, Taylor Gronau, said he has already lined up sponsorship for the videos, and all but $50 is covered. Alderwoman Gail McWilliams asked that there be more community involvement in the videos so there weren’t just pictures of the downtown area.