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In Gays Mills, owners request building buyouts
GM Village Hall

GAYS MILLS - A government-funded buyout of the Red Apple Inn and Kickapoo Locker Service was discussed at the Gays Mills Village Board meeting on Monday night.

The owners of the two businesses, Jim and Sharon Chellevold are requesting a buyout of the two properties located in the Kickapoo River floodplain.

The meat locker, located at 325 Main Street, was closed for business in 2017 and the restaurant, located at 317 Main Street, was closed earlier this year. There are currently no plans for either business to reopen and both buildings have been for sale for several months.

Jim Chellevold Sr. attended the meeting and answered some questions from the board.

Part of the locker was built recently and added on to the old locker. The new building is poured concrete and is very well insulated, according to information Chellevold shared at the meeting. The new portion never flooded, even in the most extreme flooding of 2007 and 2008.

However, the old portion of the building has flooded five times.

Gays Mills Village Board president Harry Heisz asked Chellevold if he was interested is splitting the locker plant in half to seek a buyout for the older portion.

“If it’s saleable that’s fine,” Chellevold said of the newer portion of the locker. “But it’s a dead horse just sitting there.”

Village trustee Erin Martin asked what the precedent for a buyout of the buildings would be. Were the buildings substantially damaged or blighted?

Village trustee Albert Zegiel responded by saying just being in the floodplain was enough for the buildings to be considered for a buyout.

Heisz seemed to confirm what Zegiel had said with one important addendum—buildings in the floodplain that were elevated or otherwise flood-proofed were not eligible for buyouts.

The village president was also quick to add that he was not saying the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was willing to do a buyout on these building.

Heisz pointed out the village is still working on a buyout of the old school building that housed Song’s Mushrooms. He added there would be little chance of a buyout if the DNR were not willing to fund the buyout.

The fact that the Red Apple Inn had no floodwater in it and could not qualify as suffering 50 percent damage might be a factor in keeping it from being considered for a buyout, Heisz noted.

In answer to a question from village trustee John Johnson, Chellevold confirmed the new portion of the locker had never had water in it due to flooding.

“It’s a really good building,” Chellevold said of the new portion of the locker.

There was some discussion of how to proceed with the Chellevolds’ request.

Johnson said the matter should be sent to committee.

After some discussion, Aaron Fortney made a motion that the village should look into the possible purchase (buyout) of those buildings in general as a bundle.

“We should look into both and see what we can come up with,” Fortney said. The board passed the motion on a voice vote, but not everyone agreed. It appeared both Martin and Johnson voted no.

The board also reviewed the renewal of current vacant land care agreement made with the neighbor of village-owned land at 105 Main Street.

It was explained that the village’s tree board had recommended not renewing the lease of the land in August so that a spruce tree could be planted on the two lots and a park developed around it.

Gays Mills resident Kevin Murray, who serves on the tree board, said the board planned to center the tree in the two lots and hoped to use it as a living Christmas tree at some time in the future.

While the lease comes up in August, there was some discussion of terminating the lease earlier based on violations of the contract by the neighbor leasing the lot.

Storing vehicles and firewood on the lot were cited as two examples of violations of the use restrictions on the lot under the lease agreement.

Zegiel noted the contract stated the holder of the lease was to be given 60 days to correct any violation.

Fortney pointed out that the neighbor holding the lease on the vacant lot at 105 Main Street had received two previous letters about the violations.

Fortney moved to stop the lease at 105 Main Street effective immediately and Martin seconded the motion. The board then approved ending the lease.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• approved paying Vierbicher and Associates $18,678 to help create two new TIF (Tax Incremental Finance) Districts and get a three-year extension on the original TIF District

• approved a request from Community Conservation to place a Glen Donovan sculpture in a little-used hallway in the Gays Mills Mercantile Center and to review that placement in one year

• learned from Kickapoo Culinary Center Director Brad Niemcek that the shared use kitchen would have two new users in the near future

• learned that Driftless Development Inc. would hold a listening session in the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center on Wednesday, April 11 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

• approved swimming pool rates and wages that are the same as last year

• granted operator’s licenses to Marcey Nelson and Cheyanna Washburn

• approved a temporary  Class ‘B’ liquor license for the Southwest WI Pullers for the ‘Pulling for Preston’ event scheduled for July 28 and 29 at the Crawford County Fairgrounds

• scheduled the Open Book for Thursday, April 12 and the Board of Review for Monday, April 23

• decided to hold the Gays Mills Village Spring Cleanup on Saturday, April 21

• set the next village board meeting for Monday, May 7