The first item on the agenda at a special meeting of the Muscoda village board held Monday evening, November 30, was: “Discussion and action on findings from inspection of 219 N. Wisconsin Avenue and proceeding with raze order/and other action.”
At a June 29 special meeting of the board, a “Repair or Raze” order for the building was approved. At that time the deadline to repair or raze the building was set at September 1. However, the board indicated that the date could be reconsidered if substantial progress was made prior to the date.
At the June meeting. Mike Reuter, building inspector contracted by the village, presented a list of repairs needed to bring the building up to code. Numerous problems with the electrical system, as well as plumbing, were described. Mike Bingen, building owner, objected, saying the structure did not need many of the repairs listed and he could do them himself. He also said he did not have the money to make the repairs.
At the November 30 meeting, Reuter spoke about an inspection of the building made after the September 1 deadline. He said the inspection revealed a failure to remedy the violations outlined in the previous inspection. He said improper use of electricity has been “enhanced” since the previous inspection with “extreme use of extension cords” along with exposed bare electrical wires. Electrical service to the first floor of the building was terminated in October, 2006 at the request of the owner.
Board conversation included concerns about serious difficulties that could result if there were a fire in the building. The board was presented with a series of photographs of the interior of the structure.
Village Attorney Brian McGraw offered several options the board has regarding the matter. They ranged from “doing nothing” to seeking a court order authorizing tearing the building down. Declaring the building a “public nuisance” and proceeding from there would be another possibility. McGraw did not recommend taking action without court approval, saying the property owner is entitled to the “due process of law.” He said that in the event of razing, personal property within the structure and not removed by the owner would need to be stored for a period of time.
It was noted that if the village has the building taken down, the cost could become a lien against the property. The board voted to proceed with Attorney McGraw seeking a court order to raze the building. It has served many uses during its long life but currently is a second story residence.
Bingen was not present at the November 30 board meeting. At the June meeting he indicated the building ownership is an L.L.C. (limited liability corporation). McGraw said a check last summer indicated the L.L.C. was in good standing with the state. He also said he could find no recorded evidence indicating owners other than Bingen.
The board also worked on 2016 budget matters. Approval was given to submit an application for a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to finance fixtures and furniture for the new library. The maximum amount the village could receive is $40,000. Village Administrator Cinda Johnson says it appears as though a similar application for the grant may be made for the library in Boscobel, which would have more grant priority because of a greater number and higher percentage of low and moderate income library users.