To the Editor:
Call it a sneaky, hoodwinking, old-fashioned land grab. Or consider this taxation without representation. Perhaps it is both. Either way, something is going awry that Northwoods, which shared property owners and public officials must pay attention to.
Recently I returned to my Minocqua condo to encounter the front lawn torn up and prepped for paving. Adding insult to injury, a mighty oak and several other signature trees had been chopped down. Trucks, construction equipment, and debris were sprawled across what the county had designated and taxed as shared property. However, upon contacting the county, I learned it had issued a permit allowing a developer to alter this shared property for his exclusive financial gain. After researching further, I discovered the developer was one of the shared property owners. According to the county, he informed them that covenants scripted by his brother as condo association board president, entitled him to personal development of this shared property. He then concocted that an affiliate of his brother’s development company and the condo association, were one and the same. However, as myself and other owners in this small condo complex can testify, no chartered association, covenants, or board president has ever been voted on or approved by us. These two brothers simply conjured up their own scenario of an existing association and covenants — and the county bought in. Entrusted to protect taxpayer property rights and ensure a legitimate permit process, the county now claims this is just the way we do things around here.
After contacting Oneida Zoning & Planning about this misrepresentation, I got these responses. The official issuing the permit said everything was business as usual. The assistant director agreed. The director claimed to be out of town at the time and thus supported whatever measures his staff had taken. My county board district representative proclaimed the standard “this is out of my realm.” The county board supervisor has for weeks declined any resolution. And the Town of Minocqua chairman, when asked for assistance, retaliated by accusing me of attempting to extort his office.
What opened up a can of worms is discovering that the developer previously filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had all his properties at Patricia Lake, foreclosed on to pay debts. Following the bankruptcy, his affiliate company called the Patricia Lake Estates Condominium 1 property Owners Association, no longer was listed as his real property interest. And despite this developer never being a resident of this com (sic) or complex or installed as association board president, and never performing board duties such as holding annual meetings, distributing annual reports, and enforcing covenants, Oneida County still insists that his affiliate bankrupted company is our governing association. And again, by their own statements, this is business as usual.
What should concern Oneida County residents is the ugly precedent being set by a public agency undermining shared property rights. This negligence in the performance of duties, disregards the use, access, and enjoyment of common areas protected by Chapter 703.14. And yet, after abridging shared property rights, the county continues its same taxation of the shared property.
In this bamboozling of public trust, for the price of a permit, the county is granting a developers special treatment toward his own prosperity, and at the expense of shared property rights. Taxpayer dollars are supporting this underhanded practice. Contributing to future chaos, the buyer of the new condo being built will inherit the same devalued integrity of shared property rights. Throughout all this, county officials keep coercing me to direct all issues to a bogus association, which claims to be the developer himself. And just think, so many of us were drawn to this neck of the woods by viewing it as a northern paradise.