A little more than four years after the Minocqua Town Board approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for Bayview Condominiums, Tuesday it approved CUP changes for complex.
In June 2015, the Minocqua plan commission and town board, after several hours of discussion over meetings in May and June of that year, jointly approved the CUP with a 24-unit facility as its centerpiece to the Oneida County planning and zoning committee for its approval.
Four years later, on Aug. 27, the plan commission last month approved and forwarded proposed CUP revisions for the Bayview Condominiums to the town board.
Among the revisions is removal of 12 of the condo units, which Jimmy Rein of Wilderness Surveying — acting as he has from the beginning as the agent for Bayview Condominium owner Trig Solberg and his H51 LLC — told the plan commission “they’re not gonna build a second building.”
“The building to the south that we were planning on building is not going to be built anymore,” he said then, referring to the lot where a building that last housed the REMAX real estate office had been.
Other changes to the CUP approved by the town board Tuesday include removal of the large building on the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 51 and Huber Lane that had been intended to be home for a boat livery operation tied into the condominiums; the creation of 12 overflow parking spaces and the request of 12 berthing spaces.
There are currently six spaces and Rein said the plan was for there to be nine once additional lake frontage from the building directly north of the condominium is incorporated.
Rein said Tuesday has at least 10 of the 12 units sold.
“There was pretty extensive discussion at the plan commission,” town chairman Mark Hartzheim said of last month’s meeting regarding the CUP revisions.
Pete Wegner, the assistant director of the Oneida County planning and zoning department, said other than clarification on the number of piers and berthing spaces and a variance pertaining to those that had already been approved at some point, there were no “real big issues” involving the CUP revisions from the county standpoint.
Hartzheim opened the floor for comment and Tom Youtsos, who identified himself as one of the first owners of a unit at condominium, said most of those who own units at Bayview, found out about the CUP revisions in The Lakeland Times following the Aug. 27 meeting.
“We didn’t really know what was going on,” he said.
Youtsos and Rein had an exchange after Youtsos said he was the declarant — something Rein essentially said wasn’t the case.
There was also discussion between Youtsos, Rein and Hartzheim about the overflow parking — something Youtsos wants to keep — and piers.
“A lot of this is what I said at the planning commission,” Hartzheim said. “We’re trying to take, I think, a situation, a development that was less than ideal and some of our concerns came to fruition in the process. We’re trying to work out the best solution.”
He told Youtsos he believes the owners of Bayview Condominium units need to be part of that process.
“Well, I agree,” Youtsos said.
“What I don’t know is the legal standing,” Hartzheim said. “I don’t think any of us up here is in a position to say ‘You’re right, you’re right’ or ‘You’re wrong and you’re wrong.’ I guess I would defer to the county and say ‘This is a county permit.’”
He referred to Wegner and Oneida County planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich, both at the back of the meeting room.
“How do you guys recommend proceeding?” Hartzheim asked. “As far as who’s who and they think they have control.”
“We were instructed by counsel we have no opinion,” Jennrich said, a comment that drew a few laughs from those present.
He continued after the laughter died down.
“We cannot provide legal assistance or legal advice to any parties,” Jennrich said.
“Maybe we ought to hire an attorney,” Youtsos said.
“I think you should,” Wegner told him.
“I think you guys aren’t going to be able to avoid having legal representation,” he said. “To find out where you’re at.”
Town supervisor Bill Stengl said he felt the town would have to take it in “good faith” that H51 LLC is still the owner and legally, the “only one entitled to make any changes or ammendments to the CUP.”
“That’s how we’re looking at it,” Wegner said.
There was extensive discussion over the course of the next several minutes, much of it regarding the pier situation.
“Where are we going with this?” town supervisor John Thompson asked. “Because a blind man could’ve seen this coming. That this was gonna turn into a train wreck.”
He said what he felt needed to happen was the town board approve the CUP and then, referring to Youtsos, “you guys get a lawyer if you don’t like what’s going on.”
“I don’t understand,” Thompson said. “We’re going back and forth here about something that doesn’t involve us.”
Toward the end of the discussion, town supervisor Billy Fried focused on what was to be a boat storage building for the condominium.
“When this all started, I thought it was very clear that the storage building was going to be a big part of what was going to allow this whole functioning of the waterfront to happen.”
He said he didn’t even want to get into the pier issue at this time.
“That will come down the line,” Fried said. “If the storage building is removed, now it’s on its own property and just a storage building?”
“That’s what it would be, yes,” Hartzheim said.
“So, as a town, would we ever have let just a storage building be built on that property?” Fried asked. “What’s the advantage to the town to let the storage building stand alone?”
Hartzheim said he believed there were different ways to look at it.
“Like I said, this is a less than ideal situation,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what’s the best way to resolve it from here. Wherever you end up won’t be ideal. Is it a good trade off to not having that second building built and have that storage building separated?”
Hartzheim said he felt the storage building was more about getting H51 LLC the necessary parking in the original CUP.
“Practically speaking, three lots away, it doesn’t really serve real well for boat parking because it’s not real practical,” he said. “And I don’t know how many people have boats in the storage building. Maybe one or two. I don’t think the storage building was necessarily critical to the condo. I do think the parking was.”
Hartzheim said he feels the storage building is marketable.
“It’s just a question of what your trade offs are,” he said.
Town supervisor Bill Stengl said the idea behind the boat storage building “was predicated on a 24-unit development.”
“That is not going to come to fruition so now, we have to look at what these 12 units need,” he said. “Would we have allowed that building to be built? I don’t know that we could have stopped it. Right now, that building is separated. They’re gonna have to come back for a CUP for whatever use they want to use that building for.”
Fried said he didn’t believe anyone wanted a big building at that location but “we justified it because it was going to be just for the condo people.”
“Now, we’re separating that out and if I lived across the street from that building, I’d be madder than heck,” he said. “Because now, you have a stand alone building and we’re saying ‘We’re not sure what it’s gonna be used for — we’ll let people come and tell us.’ But I don’t want to live across from somewhere where someone’s pulling a boat out all of the time in and out to store it ... I mean, that was a big component of what was presented.”
Fried said once the communication gets worked out, if the condo owners are OK with the CUP changes, that was fine with him.
“But from the town’s standpoint, it’s not just about the parking lot but now, this building’s out there,” he said. “What are we saying? Are we gonna get pushed in a corner to allow something maybe not as desirable there.”
Former Minocqua town chairman Don Gauger said he doesn’t often agree with Fried.
“But he’s right on with this one,” he said. “That building was for recreational equipment, that being boats or ATVs or whatever the case may be.”
Gauger said no one wanted that storage building and he understood Rein’s position, which is “he’s gonna sell it whatever way he’s gonna sell it.”
“But this has not been good for the town,” he said. “It wasn’t then but we all had to go along with it. I was at the public hearings — they were controversial as hell. They really were, but we were sold a bill of goods as to what it’s use was gonna be.”
As far as moving forward, Gauger urged the town board to get attorney Greg Harrold back and looking into the whole matter.
“Something’s going to happen again if we leave it to our own minds,” he said. “I think you need to sit down and have the attorney sit with you guys. There’s things there ... if it was up to me, they could take the building out.”
Youtsos said when he and his wife bought their condo unit, they thought the boat livery operation was a great idea, but then found out the town of Minocqua wouldn’t allow moving boats with forklifts, skid steer loaders or other equipment across the road to the lake.
Hartzheim said that was made very clear from the beginning.
“We were sold a bill of goods, too,” Youtsos said.
“I can’t argue with that,” Hartzheim told him.
Plan commission member Tom Church was in favor of moving forward with CUP approval.
“I’m deathly afraid if you don’t, somebody’s gonna come back in and put 12 more of those stupid condos in and ruin the lakefront already more than it’s been ruined,” he said.
The final vote on the CUP issue was 4 to 1, with Fried dissenting.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]