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Board splits 6-3 on approving special assessments

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – A developer who claims special assessments he faces on two of his lots are more than what those properties could sell for appeared Monday, Dec. 10, before the Howard village board.

Joe Gilson, who noted he has owned land at the intersection of Maddy Court and Rainbow Court for about 15 years and developed the original subdivision in that area, said he questioned Village Engineer Mike Kaster as to why the improvements would be more than $40,000 per lot.

“My improvements on the original 52 lots were about $18,000 (per lot), and I couldn’t believe it had gone up that much,” he said.

Kaster said Gilson’s assessments on two lots are “quite large” because of the shape of them being on corners.

“They are corner lots, which have a lot of frontage, and are assessed every foot as the road goes through,” he said.

Though the special assessments for each of the two lots are in the neighborhood of $70,000 apiece, Gilson said he would expect the selling price per lot to be less than $50,000.

Because of the amount of the special assessments, Kaster said Gilson would receive a three-year deferment to pay those assessments.

If the lots wouldn’t sell in three years, Gilson would then be placed on a 10-year payment plan.

Gilson said he suggested to Kaster to rebid the improvements next spring to get a better price, but then saw excavators were going through his property at the corner of Maddy Court and Rainbow Court.

Given the assessments he faces, Gilson said “the village is going to take a $25,000 hit on each one of those lots when you buy them out of foreclosure three years from now.”

“This is crazy,” he said. “The only reason I can see that this is being rammed through is because of (Ryan) Radue’s property.”

Radue Homes Inc. provided the village with a final plat for the 50-unit development known as The Cottage of Hidden Creek.

The total special assessment charges for those units come to more than $1.2 million and average out to just over $25,000 per lot.

Kaster noted Radue’s development group is self-funding the improvements.

Gilson, who noted he wouldn’t be able to give away his two lots to a non-profit organization because of the special assessments he faces, said he will be willing to sell those corner lots to the village for $9,000 apiece.

“You’re going to end up with them anyway, because I’ll just let them go to foreclosure,” he said. “I can’t even give them away, because whoever I give them to is going to look at this and say, ‘Well, you’re crazy, I’m not going to take this.’”

Though the board didn’t take any action on purchasing the lots, some trustees sympathized with Gilson facing special assessments for more than he would expect to be able to sell the land.

Trustee Ray Suennen said it wouldn’t make sense from a business standpoint to keep a lot with around $70,000 in special assessments when it wouldn’t be expected to sell for more than $50,000.

“If the assessments come up to $70,000, you can’t make them less, down to $40,000,” he said. “If the property is only going to sell for $50,000, you can’t crank it up to $80,000.”

When the board considered the motion to authorize the levying of special assessments against the benefited property on Maddy Court, Rainbow Court and the plat of The Cottages at Hidden Creek, Suennen and trustees Ron Bredael and Adam Lemorande voted in opposition.

Village President Burt McIntyre said he was bothered about the amount of special assessments versus the value of the property, but saw no other option than to support the motion.

“I don’t feel real good about this whole thing,” McIntyre said. “It is what it is. This is not a case of we’re making the numbers up.”

The motion carried 6-3 with McIntyre and trustees Chris Nielsen, Cathy Hughes, John Muraski, Scott Beyer and Craig McAllister voting in the majority.

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