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Resident voices concern over noise and privacy
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Mike Finnell, the neighbor of the new Gays Mills Community Commerce Center located on Highway 131, voiced his concerns about the building at the village board meeting Monday night.

Finnell told the board the building was “a nuisance” and “annoying.”

“We’ve lost all privacy in our backyard,” Finnell said. “We were here first. We didn’t have a choice.”

The beleaguered resident explained the need to create separation between the residential area and the commercial area in the village. He asked the board if the village could provide a fence to create some of that separation.

One of Finnell’s biggest complaints is the ongoing noise created by the refrigeration and freezers of the building’s shared-use community kitchen, known as the Kickapoo Culinary Center.

“I just want my backyard back,” Finnell said.

Village trustee Harry Heisz, who has looked into the situation on Finnell’s property, confirmed the refrigeration and freezer systems were loud. He said they ran four times during the 45 minutes that he was on the property looking into the possibility of fencing.

Heisz told the board that vinyl fencing for the property would run between $1,800 and $6,500.

“It’s something in my opinion that we need to come up with,” Heisz said of the price for fencing the Finnell property.

“Mr. Finnell we want your comfort restored,” village trustee Geraldine Smith said. “We will do our best to make it happen. It might not happen overnight, but it will happen.”

In another matter, the board took up the discussion of hiring an assistant to the village clerk because of the workload caused by the current recovery project. Smith, chairperson of the personnel committee, stressed the importance of hiring for the position to help out village clerk Dawn McCann.

CouleeCap Housing Specialist Michele Engh told the board that she discussed some funding for the position with Stan Kaitfors, an official in the Wisconsin Department of Administration charged with administering Community Development Block Grants. Kaitfors agreed the village could use the $6,000 set aside for administration of a $2 million in CDBG funding to hire an assistant to the clerk to work on matters related to the grant.

This was good news for Smith, who estimated funding the assistant clerk position at 24 hours per week for the rest of the year would cost about $10,000.

While there was some agreement on the board around the idea, there was a difference in opinion on whether the position should be a temporary or permanent part-time position. Smith favored making the part-time position permanent, while others, like trustee Kevin Murray, wanted the position to be temporary terminating at the end of the year.

Murray argued that at some point in the future the clerk’s workload would be reduced as the recovery projects were completed.

“You’re dreaming,” Smith told Murray. She cited the ongoing nature of the recovery projects. 

In questioning the clerk, it was determined that the village would have to pay retirement benefits if the position exceeded 600 hours in a year.

Smith allowed her initial motion to be modified and the board passed a motion to hire a temporary part-time aide to the village clerk for the rest of the year in a position that “could become permanent.” The position will not exceed 600 hours for the rest of 2012.

Kurt Muchow, a planner for Vierbicher and Associates, told the board that some progress had been made in negotiating with Niesen and Son Landscaping on interest payments the contractor claimed the village owed for work done on the recovery project. In the meeting, Vierbicher was able to get the contractor to agree that they had figured the interest incorrectly and the actual interest owed by the village was not $20,240, but $13,400. That figure was further reduced by $1,377, when Gays Mills Director of Public Works Jim Chellevold agreed to do some of the remaining work.

Niesen also agreed to take the remaining $12,000 owed in interest payments in monthly payments of $1,000 with no further interest being charged.

The U.S. Department  of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has agreed the interest cost may grant eligible and surplus grant funds could be used to pay for 60 percent of the cost, according to Muchow. That would leave the village paying the remaining $4,800.

On Muchow’s advice, the board agreed to take up the matter at their next meeting, when more information should be available.

Muchow also told the board that Augelli, the cement subcontractor, was returning to address some issues with the concrete in the project and the electricians would re-install a light, which fell from a pole and inspect the rest.

The board approved a request by Gays Mills property owner Jerry Brockway to alter the Gays Mills Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Map to change a property he owns adjacent to the Marketplace from residential commercial. The board also approved referring the accompanying zoning change request to the plan commission for review.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• heard a presentation by Kay Smiley on a proposed park on village-owned vacant lots on Grove Street and approved it as pilot project with some conditions

• approved the purchase of 111 State Highway 171 as grant-funded buyout

• approved the purchase of 210 Park Street as a grant-funded buyout

• approved Fischl pay request #9 of $11,248 for work done to the public works building

• approved Fischl pay request #9 of $16,407 for work completed at the EMS building

• agreed to pay more than $6,000 in temporary electric bills at the Mercantile Center with the hopes of getting an EDA grant to pay a portion of them

• created a buyer’s agency for CouleeCap so it would have the correct licensure and not be limited in how many houses it could buy annually in funded-buyouts

• approved buying a chair lift for the swimming pool at a cost of $4,290 as required by state law

• agreed to pay $800 for company-provided super-vision of volunteers assembling and installing playground equipment at the playground in the park behind the townhouses at the relocation site

• approved a request by Community Outreach to use the old library building for fund raising purposes during the upcoming spring festival

• tabled action on vendor requests for use of village-owned lots during Apple Fest in the fall

• tabled action on providing shields for the lights installed on the EMS building that are too bright for the neighboring residence

 • scheduled a citizen participation meeting for June 4 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss housing at the town homes and in elevated rental properties as required by a grant

• agreed swimming pool rates should remain the same as last year