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Seymour prepares to purchase former Coonen Oil Station

By Lea Kopke
Staff Writer

SEYMOUR – Following a joint committee of the whole meeting July 12, the city council held a special meeting to pass a resolution regarding the purchase of the former Coonen Oil Station at 1043 Ivory St.

To receive local government liability protections under Wisconsin law, City Administrator Sean Hutchison said the city must preface the purchase with a resolution stating the acquisition would be for blight elimination.

Hutchison said some people are hesitant to purchase the property because it has contaminated soil, which means the soil cannot be dug up or removed without being handled as a contaminate under Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources guidelines.

He said this action also opens up the possibility of grant funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which would allow the city to remove the building entirely.

Hutchison said the city could then put a cap over the contaminated soil, allowing the property’s next buyer to build on it without issue.

“That increases the value of the property even more because a potential buyer is not now going to have to contend with removing the building,” he said.

Hutchison said the city sent out its offer to purchase July 13.

Committee of the whole discussions

Prior to the special meeting, the group discussed protocol surrounding bartenders’ licenses at its first joint committee of the whole meeting.

At present, the council approves license applications based on the recommendations of Police Chief Isaac Schultz.

Schultz said he determines who will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Alderperson Ryan Kinney said he was confused about why Schultz advised the council to pass a license application for one person who sold to minors in the past but not another.

Schultz said he recommended approving the first person because the offense was in 2019, whereas the second person’s occurred within the past nine months.

Kinney’s comment sparked a debate about whether specific guidelines should be drawn up.

“We’re voted into these offices to make decisions like that,” Alderperson Alex Tetzlaff said. “At this point in time, I think one of the things that come through this is we’ve always listened to the chief of police’s opinion and held it in high regard.”

The debate was revisited toward the end of the meeting, where Kinney again argued the need for guidelines.

Schultz agreed to prepare guidelines, which could be used with discretion to help create consistency.

The committee also discussed a draft for a new fence ordinance, which Hutchison said was based on four different best management practices throughout the state.

Hutchison said the city’s current mandate on fences is short and without any specifics, which has made it more difficult to settle resident complaints.

The group debated the need to require residents to submit a land survey along with a fence permit application, which Mayor Ryan Kraft said typically costs $250-$1,000 to get done.

The committee delayed a vote to a later meeting to allow time to better understand the mandate.

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