By Ben Rodgers
HOWARD – The village of Howard took the necessary steps for new development projects at its Monday, Jan. 22 meeting.
The first was the village declaring its intent to exercise special assessment powers upon Clementine Road, the plat of Bayview Estates sixth addition, and Woodale Estates.
Approximately 1,250 feet of sewer and water main along with curb and gutter along Clementine are needed for the two residential developments.
The improvements had previously been approved by the board, according to Mike Kaster, director of engineering.
This preliminary resolution gives approval for the special assessment process to start.
Three property owners and two development lots require the assessment.
Kaster had no estimate of the cost for the property owners as a request for bids has not yet been sent out.
The property owners had a special assessment cost included with the purchase price when they originally acquired the lots.
Now the second side of the lots would be assessed minus credits from the village.
“These are the rules we operate under,” said Burt McIntyre, village president. “This is the procedure we always use. If we feel there is an inequity being put on the property owners, we need to change the rules.”
The resolution passed with Trustee Craig McAllister being the lone opposing vote.
The second formal process started was a relocation order for the laying out, improvement and extension of Clementine Road.
The property in question contains 21.5 feet of the lot at 1274 Hillcrest Heights owned by Sandy Favorito, who will also be subject to the special assessment.
This is needed to create an extension that would create street connectivity with the Woodale and Bayview estates projects.
The order allows the village the ability, per state statute, to start the negotiation process for purchasing the property from the land owner.
It would also allow the village to start the condemnation process on the property if good faith negotiations with the property owner go south.
According to Kaster a surveyor went to the Favorito house to discuss the possibility of them joining the plat, but discussions stalled.
“The only reason we didn’t get back to the gentleman was because my husband was out of town,” Favorito said.
The relocation order is also part of the process municipalities follow when talks with the property owner don’t progress.
“The reason municipalities go through this process is because it is the law of Wisconsin,” said Geoff Farr, director of public works. “They laid out the formal procedures, they have professional negotiators come in. Village staff doesn’t do the negotiation, not to say we couldn’t do it, but we’d still hire the same person that would otherwise do it.”
Farr strongly recommended the village does not take the negotiation process into its own hands.
“If this would be a federal project that would be highly frowned upon,” he said. “Because you inadvertently risk saying something the first time around that could be brought up in the court of law.”
Kaster said condemnation proceedings are rare and that municipalities offer a fair price and take into account any existing improvements on the property.
He also said the acquisition of property for this section of road is necessary.
“With the approvals of plats, this road needs to go through for those plats to happen, and this property needs to be acquired for that road to happen,” Kaster said.
McIntyre said the village is acting within its ability and following the same rules it always has.
“I don’t want to give them the feeling that we’re setting up rules and regulations to force you into anything,” McIntrye said. “This is a negotiated agreement between the village and you.”
The vote on the order passed with Trustee Mike Hoppe being the lone opposed vote.
Trustee Cathy Hughes said more information will be available from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 15 at a meeting for the property owners at public works.