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Gays Mills to sell former library building
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The Village of Gays Mills took another step toward selling the former library building located at 205 Main Street, when the village board agreed to get a broker’s price opinion on the property.

At their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the board also decided the village would advertise in newspapers for sealed bids on the former library building.

In answer to inquiries from the board, the village’s assessor had previously indicated that if the former library building were assessed for taxes, it would be assessed from $25,000 to $30,000. Several village trustees explained that it was important that the board have a solid idea of what the building is worth.

The broker’s price opinion will be secured from a local real estate broker at a cost of $125, the board was informed.

CouleeCap Housing Specialist Michele Engh told the board that three rental properties were elgible for acquisition or elevation. However for one owned by Derek McCormick, the future remains uncertain. Engh told the board that Jewell and Associates had been retained to determine how high McCormick’s Main Street property would need to be raised to be above the base flood level.

The housing specialist told the board that the higher the structure was raised the more it would cost. She also noted that since the cost of elevating could not exceed 50 percent of the fair market value of the building, this determination would be crucial in determining which direction McCormick might go with the property, in terms of elevation or acquisition. He has indicated he would like to see the house rental property elevated.

Village trustee Kevin Murray again took issue with using the funding originally intended for elevating rental properties for acquisition and demolition of properties and construction of replacement buildings.

“We should never have approved this, the money was for elevation not buyouts,” Murray said.

Later under new business, Engh explained the situation with the residential elevation at 506 Main Street. The housing specialist described some of the issues raised by elevating the residence.

Engh said the house was one foot below the base flood level. It would have to be elevated that foot and another two feet to create a crawlspace to replace a basement that would be filled as part of the elevation. In total, the house would be raised five feet.

Because the residential lot lacks a certain amount of space, there would not be enough room to taper the fill from the elevated house to the existing floodplain, according to Engh. A garage to the west and the small amount of space in front of the house dictate that retaining walls would have to be built to hold the fill used to elevate the property. Both actions would require a DNR waiver.

Additionally, there is not enough property to the east of the house to properly taper the elevation and it would require another retaining wall. However, if the village agreed to allow the tapering of the elevation to come onto property it owns or to sell that property to the homeowner, the retaining wall on the east side of the house could be avoided, according to the CouleeCap housing specialist.

Engh told the board that adding a cost of $9,000 to $10,000 for a retaining wall on the east side of the lot might jeopardize the project by pushing it over 50 percent of the value of the house. Funded elevation costs cannot exceed 50 percent of the fair market value of a residence.

Village trustees wrestled with how to approach the problem.

Stan Kaitfors, an official from the Wisconsin Department of Administration who has a lead role in the administration of Community Development Block Grant money in the flood recovery effort was asked about the situation. Kaitfors acknowledged that CDBG-funded buyouts do not carry the same deed restrictions for future use as FEMA and DNR-funded buyouts of floodplain residences.

Kaitfors said the property adjoining 506 Mains Street was a CDBG buyout. The buyout property is the former Finnell gas station last owned by Maxine Brooks who intended to turn it into an ice cream parlor. The state official explained the buyout would not restrict the village from selling part of the property to assist with an elevation at 506 Main Street.

However, Kaitfors cautioned the board that they should refer to their floodplain zoning laws and see if the proposed elevation of the residence would be legal.

After more discussion of the situation, the village’s contracted attorney Eileen Brownlee weighed in on the matter. Brownlee advised the board that the matter was a zoning decision to be made, at least initially, by the zoning administrator. In the case of Gays Mills, the zoning administrator is the Director of Public Works Jim Chellevold.

If Chellevold decides the floodplain zoning rules would allow the elevation, the board could then decide to sell the Pastorinos a lot so the elevation could avoid building a third retaining wall.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• approved a welcome sign design recommended by the public works committee and agreed to purchase one of the four proposed signs at a cost of $1,600

• approved the recommendation of the public property committee to move two handicap parking stalls at the Gays Mills Mercantile Center closer to the building’s main parking lot entrance

• heard a report that the village would receive a $5,000 urban forestry grant because of the Vosseteig Funeral Home’s $5,000 payment for trees necessary to create a visual barrier between the business and the residential area at Site A. The payment could be counted as the matching money

• heard a report from village trustee Geraldine Smith that indicated the village collected $2,200 in permit and space rental fees from vendors at last weekend’s Apple Fest

• agreed to press through legal action to get Rusty Childs to make a house he owns located on a lot in Site A compliant with requirements for residences in the development

• adopted an ordinance creating a six-month moratorium on frac sand mining in the village so the board could study a frac sand mining ordinance created by the county for adoption by municipalities and townships to allow for licensing of frac sand mining

• sold Outlot 1 at Site A for the new proposed Vosseteig Funeral Home