At a special meeting Monday night, the St. Germain Town Board voted to seek a loan of more than a half million dollars to cover the cost of current town projects. Supervisors also voted to adopt a revised code of zoning ordinances.
The town board (absent supervisor Tim Clark) voted unanimously to authorize town treasurer Marion Janssen to secure a loan from M-Bank for a principal amount of $581,108.12. The town will pay 2.49% in interest over a three-year term.
The money will be spent on a number of projects which were either unexpected or had open-ended completion dates. Some of the funds are for other projects already underway which called for change orders.
The town’s salt shed, fire department roof, and park pavilion are all in a state of disrepair and in need of work soon. Engineering costs are expected to come in at $10,000, plus $2,000 for the initial inspections of each structure. Construction work will be paid for at a later time.
Engineering costs for construction on Found Lake Road will come to $21,000, plus a change order for $4,900.
Change orders for construction work on South Bay Road and Star Lane total $25,283; grading and re-graveling on Maplewood Road will cost $30,122.72; and construction on Burnt Bridge Road comes to $233,222.
Parking lot clearing and construction for the proposed Fern Ridge sledding and recreation area will cost $11,550. That contract was awarded to low-bidder Advance Septic and Site Solutions at Monday’s meeting.
One surprise expense this year comes as the town needs to decide how to dispose of the contents of its filled-to-capacity yard waste facility, (referred to as “The Stump Dump”). In years past, contractors removed the waste at little or no cost to the town, processed it, and sold it as burnable fuel to industrial plants and paper mills. As the U.S. now has a surplus of low-priced natural gas, the market for plant-based fuel has bottomed-out and there is almost no demand for waste wood. To empty the yard waste facility this year will cost the town $20,000.
The town also needs to update its comprehensive plan, which is submitted to the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, a state entity which advocates and coaches for (among other things) long-term town planning and economic development. Costs to update that plan are $6,000.
The town will also take on a short-term expenditure in order to earn a long-term savings. As several road construction projects involving gravel were initiated, supervisors learned it is significantly cheaper to purchase crushed gravel from Vilas County than it is to buy it directly from distributor Pitlik and Wick. The town will make a bulk purchase costing $127,040.40 in anticipation of the work on Maplewood Road and other projects; the remainder will be stored until it is needed.
Finally, demolition of the town’s historic red brick schoolhouse will cost $90,000. According to Town Clerk Tom Martens, the school was the oldest building in St. Germain and the first permanent structure erected in the town. It was built in 1941 and had been decommissioned as a school nearly two decades ago. After years of public debate about what to do with it, electors voted to have the schoolhouse razed.
As demolition and salvage work began on the building, however, contractors discovered asbestos, which had not been accounted for in previous inspections. Abatement of the unanticipated asbestos will not increase the town's cost of disposal, but it will push back the demolition’s completion date an extra three weeks to Nov. 28.
Zoning changes adopted
After months of conversations and revisions between the zoning committee and town board, supervisors voted three-to-one to adopt a new set of zoning ordinances.
Supervisor Ted Ritter is also the zoning committee chairman. He spearheaded the effort and authored the revisions. He characterized most of the changes as “housekeeping”; deleting outdated and superfluous language, correcting omissions and redundancies.
“The one change that was probably the most significant is that we have somewhat relaxed the prohibition against recreational vehicles in the town,” Ritter said. “We are now allowing them in two specific zoning districts (rural residential and forestry), and only when the parcels are more than five acres ... It’s not a total relaxation. RV camping is still prohibited throughout most of the town.”
Supervisor Brian Cooper was Monday’s lone “nay” vote.
“I am not in favor of the changes made restricting property use in the town,” he told The Lakeland Times. “It’s a little more relaxed, but it’s still restrictive. That’s the position I’ve had all along, and I’m sticking to it.”
“I’m not upset about it,” said Cooper, who also serves on the zoning committee. “In fact, I had two voices in the matter: one on the zoning committee and one on the town board. It went through the proper process and it was voted on fair-and-square. That’s how democracy works, and that’s right. But I didn’t vote for it because I don’t agree with the idea of it.”