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More buyouts approved
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The Gays Mills Village Board approved buying out three residences located in the floodplain with Community Development Block Grant funding supplied by the state for that purpose.

At a finance committee meeting held the previous week only two of the offers to purchase were recommended for the board’s approval. The committee recommended the board accept the offer to purchase a house owned by Deb Mickelson at 102 School Street and a house owned by Jim and Sharon Chellevold at 211 Orin Street.

The Chellevolds will retain ownership of a lot with a garage on it and will continue to use the building. The house will be removed as a condition of the buyout.

In answer to a question from the board, Couleecap Housing Specialist Michele Engh confirmed the offer to purchase would be adjusted to reflect the property being split and the Chellevolds retaining ownership of the garage.

Although the board approved the offer to purchase Mickelson’s house on School Street, village trustee Kevin Murray again registered an objection to the buyout. Murray stated that no part of the lot was in the floodplain as required in this round of buyouts. The trustee, who owns a house across the street, claimed the fact the house wasn’t in the floodplain could be clearly seen on an enlarged DNR floodplain map on a computer screen.

“It’s wrong,” Murray said of the buyout. “I don’t know why the state is rolling over on this, when it’s so clearly not in the floodplain.”

Despite Murray’s objections the board approved the School Street buyout.

Although the finance committee had previously tabled recommending the board accept an offer to purchase a house owned by Jennifer Abing at 326 Orin Street, village president Craig Anderson asked Stan Kaitfors from the Wisconsin Department of Administration to speak about the situation.

Kaitfors said after reviewing the facts the state recognized Abing as the owner based on an oral agreement between Abing and her parents Jim and Sharon Chellevold that she was buying the house.

“It satisfies the ownership requirement,” Kaitfors said. “There is an agreement of ownership and the low and moderate income requirement was met.

“We would have no problem defending this down the line with HUD and CDBG funding being used for the buyout,” Kaitfor told the board.

Couleecap Housing Specialist Michel Engh said she did have an amortization schedule for a mortgage on the property.

Engh said Gays Mills Director of Public Works Jim ‘Jimmer” Chellevold reviewed the situation with dividing the property and leaving the garage on a lot to be retained by Abing. The garage is used for storage of items from the adjoin Kickapoo Locker owned by Jim and Sharon Chellevold.

Engh asked the board if they would like to have someone else render an opinion on the lots and garage involved on the property split. The village’s director of public works is the son of Jim and Sharon Chellevold and the brother of Jennifer Abing. The board did not ask for review from another source.

Village trustee Harry Heisz moved to split the lots and leave the ownership of the garage with Abing and approve the offer to purchase with the understanding the amount would be adjusted to show the buyout no longer included the garage. The board then approved the motion.

All of the residents being bought out will relocate to new housing in the relocation area originally known as Site A east of the Gays Mills Mercantile Center and the Couleecap Town Houses.

Later in the meeting following a closed session, the board reconvened in open session and approved an offer to purchase the Blackhawk Auto & Truck Repair building at 405 Main Street.  

Another buyout that would include rental properties is under consideration, the board learned from Engh.

Engh has received permission to spend unused funds originally aimed at elevations of rental properties in the village to buy out some of the rental property and then get the landlords involved in building a duplex to replace some of that rental housing.

Village president Craig Anderson and trustee Kevin Murray questioned whether using the money that was intended to preserve rental  housing to remove rental housing was a proper use of the funds. Engh indicated that while it would remove rental property it would also replace it.

McCormick, a local contractor, noted at one point that he would be doing work on building a duplex himself.

Engh agreed to try to coordinate a project based on the buyouts with McCormick and two other landlords. She agreed to meet with McCormick, Murray and Anderson to explore options and get some  kind of proposal ready for the next month’s committee meeting.

The Village of Gays Mills also acted to satisfy the complaints of neighbors to two of the village’s new buildings.

Harry Heisz told the board that working with members of Ocooch Mountain Rescue, he was able to get their agreement to employ motion sensors on the bright lights on the rear of the EMS Building, which face the adjoining house of John Gibbs on Highway 131. Heisz said that McCormick Electric would install one or two sensors to solve the problem.

Heisz also followed up on a solution to the noise and privacy complaints of Gays Mills Community Commerce Center neighbor Mike Finnell. Heisz said a firm would install a 100-foot cedar fence between Finnell's residence and the commerce center at a cost of $3,500. This would go a long way toward helping to block the sound coming from the Kickapoo Culinary Center’s compressors from the refrigeration and freezer systems.

A question of whether to locate the fence on village property or the Finnell’s property was left open. Heisz indicated he would talk it over with the residents and report back the solution at the next board meeting.

Heisz pointed out that funding for the project could come from the $14,000 reimbursed to the village from Focus On Energy for energy-saving measures the village had undertaken. Heisz filled out the paperwork and submitted the necessary documentation to Focus on Energy to receive the funding.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• accepted a reworded five-year warranty from Weiser Brothers for the repaired cracks in the cement floor of the Mercantile Center

• heard a report from recovery coordinator Julia Henley on the progress of replacing three village welcome signs and saw sketches of some options

 • approved a $1,000 sponsorship request for the Brave Ride bicycle event that had been previously budgeted

• declined to offer a land lease to Emmett Heisz for 502 Main Street because of the property’s perceived usefulness during an event like Apple Fest

• instructed Vierbicher’s Kurt Muchow to contact the cement contractor about corrective action to solve the drainage problem in the plaza area just east of the mercantile center parking lot

• approved a zoning change for 48723 Brockway Drive from residential to business as recommended by the plan commission

• approved adding camping as a conditional use in business district as recommended by the plan commission

• approved a request for a 5K-walk/run event on the village streets during the county fair

• heard a request that recovery coordinator Julia Henley have some regular office hours in Gays Mills when she would be available to meet with residents and business people

• approved an operator’s license for Karla Brown and Thaddeus Hoening

• approved the temporary Class “B” Liquor License for Societies Sons Motorcycle Club for July 20-22

• approved Kile Martz as an election inspector

• appointed Barb Sand as a new member on the plan commission