Suamico backs connection requirement in dispute
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – After further review of the village code, the Suamico village board wants the owners of 9.657 acres of property along Velp Avenue and at the end of Knightriders Lane to connect to municipal sewer and water service should they decide to build a house there.
Board members in July referred the matter to Suamico’s legal counsel, Corey Kimps, to review the related village code language requiring the connections after hearing from Troy Knaus and his attorney, Frank Kowalkowski, regarding the land Knaus and his wife purchased at 12136 Velp Ave.
The dispute over requiring connection to municipal utilities relates to the definition of adjacent in the municipal code.
Kowalkowski informed the board the sewer and water lines stopped short of touching the Knaus property.
He said the additional cost to get sewer and water to the lot line would be around $20,000.
Kowalkowski said sales material led the Knauses to believe there was sewer and water service to the property and laterals were in place.
Trustee Sky Van Rossum said the dispute over whether the connections are required wouldn’t have come before the board had the laterals been there as advertised.
“I’m guessing that the property would not have been purchased for the amount of money it was purchased for, if it was known that the laterals were not there,” Van Rossum said.
Kowalkowski said the property’s purchase price has nothing to do with how the village chose to draft its ordinances and the inconsistent manner they are being enforced.
He said the property shouldn’t be required to connect to sewer and water based on state case law and Suamico’s municipal code related to the definition of adjacent.
But instead of having a private well and septic system for the property, Kowalkowski asked the village for financial assistance to decrease the cost of providing the property with municipal sewer and water service.
Board members weren’t in favor of helping the Knauses pay for the sewer and water connections.
“For us to ask other customers to pay for your hookup would just be plain wrong,” said Trustee Michelle Eckert.
Kimps, whose legal opinion concluded the board could require the utility connections, disputed Kowalkowski’s interpretation of adjacent as it applied to those connections.
“I have found additional case law that contradicts this position that ‘adjacent’ does not necessarily mandate touching and can be defined as ‘near to or close to,’” Kimps stated a letter to the board.
Kimps further stated the village has the power under state law to require a connection for buildings in a block through which sewer or water systems are extended.
Trustee Dan Roddan, who made the motion at the Monday, Sept. 16, meeting to require the connections, said the matter is “pretty cut and dry.”
“This is no different than anybody else in the village that needs a hookup to sewer and water,” Roddan said. “The cost is relatively the same as others that have to hook up, and there’s nothing overly unique about this, other than the contract that was drafted between an owner and seller… Our ordinances say that you need to hook up, so therefore we’re going to request you to hook up.”
Roddan also noted every residence in the area is already hooked up to sewer and water.
Kowalkowski previously alluded to the possibility of challenging the connection requirement in court, should it be applied to the Knauses, based on an unclear definition for adjacent.
When contacted three days following the meeting, Kowalkowski said the Knauses were still discussing their options.