Set Prices For June 6 Tax Deed Land Sale
Every year, particularly in times of economic downturns, Marinette County takes over a number of properties for unpaid back taxes, and after a time, many of them are put up for sale at the annual county tax deed auction. This year, tentatively 28 properties will be offered in the County Board room of the courthouse in Marinette at 9 a.m. Friday, June 6.
Some of the properties are slivers of value only to adjoining property owners, some contain improvements, some do not. Some are great recreational properties, others mostly swamp. Minimum bid prices are set low to encourage bidding and get the properties back on the tax roll.
This years list includes one property each in the towns of Amberg, Dunbar, Grover, Lake, Middle Inlet, Pound, and Silver Cliff, and the villages of Coleman and Crivitz. Two parcels are being sold in the Town of Niagara and four in Beecher. The list includes five properties in the City of Marinette, three in the City of Niagara, and two in the City of Peshtigo.
At their meeting on Friday, April 11, members of the countys Parks, Forestry, Lands and Outdoor Recreation committee went through the list one by one to discuss attributes and set minimum bid prices. Forest and Parks Administrator Pete Vilas, who personally has visited each of the properties, showed photos of the properties and fielded questions from the committee as they went through the list.
One property in Crivitz that will hopefully be sold is not among the 29 parcels to be auctioned on June 6.
The former Oakwood Haven Apartments, at 1013 Fritzie Street, Crivitz is being advertised for sale separately through an agreement with the village. Sealed bids are being accepted, with a $5,000 minimum bid and some special conditions attached. Half of the building was destroyed by fire in the wee hours of Thursday, May 26, 2011, but the other half remains standing. The apartment complex was built to provide low income housing. At the time of the fire, 11 of the 20 units were occupied. Thirteen of the residents, mainly elderly or disabled, were transported to Bay Area Medical Center for treatment. One person had jumped from a second-story window.
Except for installing some no trespassing signs and a green plastic fence around the damaged building, owners Agard Enterprises of California did little or nothing there since the fire. Marinette County became the owner last October, when the property was taken for unpaid back taxes. Assessed value before the fire was $286,500. The 2009 tax bill totaled almost $5,000, approximately the starting price for sealed bids for the remainder of the building.
The Crivitz Village Board had issued an order giving the owner a six month deadline to demolish the remainder of the building and clean up the property. Since the county became the owner last fall, county taxpayers will foot the bill for the demolition and cleanup unless a buyer is found.
Normally Vilas handles tax deed properties as part of his Forest, Parks and Lands Department administrative duties, but this one is being taken care of separately by Zoning and Planning Administrator John LeFebvre due to the special circumstances.
LeFebvre says the half of the building that was burned definitely needs to be cleaned up and hauled away, but he believes the half that remains standing is usable. He hopes a buyer can be found to rebuild and restore what remains of the building.
Were trying to cut our losses, LeFebvre declared. If we cannot find a buyer, we will need to raze the building, and that will be an expense.
He and County Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison worked with the village to come up with an agreement through which the standing part of the structure may be saved - provided there is a buyer.
By unanimous vote, the committee approved the agreement, which gives the county - or whoever purchases the property - six months to get the damaged part of the building demolished and removed, and then two years to rebuild. The village in turn agrees to work with the owner to expedite the permitting process and other issues.
LeFebvre thinks someone may be interested in buying the property at a low price and rebuilding the portion that was burned and restoring the half that remains standing. Written bids will be accepted until 5 p.m. Thursday, June 5.
The committee spent about an hour going over each of the remaining 28 properties to set minimum bid prices in preparation for the sale on June 6.
Minimum price of $100 was put on a 60X120 (.17 acre) lot with frontage on Grant Street in Amberg. It was assessed at $3,000, and the back taxes came to $188. Committee Chair, Supervisor Bill Walker, questioned the low minimum price on a property appraised at $3,000. The base price doesnt mean it will go for that, Supervisor Ken Mattison commented.
Next came a .88 acre lot, basically 200 feet square, at W7385 Ring Lane, off County Z in the Town of Beecher, with a block foundation, a shed, and a well. Vilas said it has a pump house, and electricity runs to the property, which is located on the dead end of Ring Lane. Vilas said there is a motor home that may be drivable parked on the property, but attempts to contact the owner have been unsuccessful. The foundation seems to be in good shape, there is a floor with trusses over it that serves as a roof over the basement, and it doesnt seem to leak, Vilas said.
Mattison suggested putting the base at $5,000.
Land hasnt been moving, said Supervisor Russ Bousley, who in general favored starting prices bid low. He suggested starting bids at $2,500 for the property, which was assessed at $18,000. Bousley, town chair of Dunbar, is very familiar with the area.
Vilas said he has been advised they cannot set prices super low, and three people have inquired about the property, one of them an adjoining land owner.
The motor home alone is worth $8,500 if it stays with the property, argued Supervisor Al Mans.
That led to a discussion of what will become of the motor home. Decision was that it cannot be sold with the land, but if no one claims it, the county could acquire legal ownership and sell it through the regular county auction.
Mans felt the suggested $2,500 was a ridiculous price!
We want to get rid of it, Bousley argued. He prevailed, and the minimum bid price was set at $2,500.
A starting price of $2,500 was also put on 2.4 acre lot with a mobile home in fair condition on Love Lane off County L in the Town of Beecher. There is no well or septic. Assessed value is $16,500, and the land alone is assessed at $14,000. There is a little corner with swamp on the property.
The starting bid will be $10,000 for a 7.13 acre parcel with an older cabin in poor condition, one lot away from the lake, at N16891 Cliff Lane at County L, in the Town of Beecher. The property, appraised at $45,000, is wooded with scrub oak, jack pine and over-mature jack pine. Mans noted the land alone is worth $1,500 an acre.
A hold was put on sale of a 1.55 acre lot at W4881 Hideaway Drive, near the Four Seasons Club in the Town of Beecher. Vilas said there is a lot of junk on the property. The road that serves that property as well as three cabins behind it is not physically located in accord with the legal description, and in fact goes through the center of the parcel. They need to clear up the road issue before selling. Vilas described the existing road as more of a trail, so narrow you can hardly get a vehicle down it.
Bids on a 2 acre parcel at the end of Whippoorwill Drive in the Town of Dunbar will start at $500. Vilas said there are no buildings and the land is mostly swamp.
A 5 acre property in the Town of Grover will be offered for a minimum of $5,000 . The parcel includes an old farm house with no windows and an old garage. Bousley commented those might be more of a drawback than an added value for a buyer. The property is assessed at $28,000, with the land alone valued at $16,000.
A .81 acre vacant field at the corner of Ferndale and Lake Porterfield Road in the Town of Lake was given a minimum price of $500.
Bids will start at $100 for a long narrow strip between two properties in the Town of Middle Inlets Sweetheart City, and on a land locked one third of an acre parcel subject to an easement in the Town of Niagara.
A 30X30 square land locked parcel adjoining three other properties in the Town of Niagara will be offered for a starting price of only $50.
Also being offered at a $50 starting price is a 300 foot strip between two properties in the Town of Silver Cliff.
An older home and out buildings on one and a half acres at N3877 County Q in the Town of Pound is being offered for $2,000. The property is assessed at $56,000, but the house has asbestos siding, a bad roof and a cracked foundation.
An older home with a 2-car detached garage at W8582 County W in the Town of Stephenson received a starting price of $5,000. Vilas reported the buildings are in fair condition, and the house is stucco over cement block. The parcel includes 1.29 acres of land, assessed at $10,000, and the total assessed value of the property is $54,700. Vilas said the county has owned the property since last fall, but he needs to check reports that someone has moved in.
A land locked parcel, a long narrow strip totaling .22 of an acre, in the Town of Stephenson will be offered for $50.
Bids will start at $300 for a three quarters of an acre lot on County W just down the road from the Highway Shop at Crivitz in the Town of Stephenson. The 100X331 lot is next door to a property with a small house on it.
Bidding will start at $4,000 for a 5.3 acre vacant property off County A in the Town of Stephenson. Access is via an easement, and there is a 30 easement through the property.
Minimum price of $5,000 was set on a large older 2-story house with a garage on a .15 acre lot at 220 W. Main Street in the Village of Coleman. The property is assessed at $70,000. Vilas said a woman lived there until it went tax delinquent. Considerable committee debate preceded setting the price. Several members, including Mans, wanted to start bids at $10,000.
Instead of letting it go that cheap, why dont we just give it to some poor family? Mans argued. Vilas said that would be illegal.
A small parcel behind 621 Anderson Street in Crivitz will be offered again for $50. There is no access. The parcel was also offered last year, but there were no takers.
With no dissent, the committee accepted a recommendation from Walker to start bids at $50 each on five small parcels in his supervisory district, on Russell Street in the City of Marinette. Four of the lots are adjoining and the fifth is separate. All are low land, Walker said.
Bids will start at $5,000 for a 2-story house with garage at 1088 heights Street, Niagara. Assessed value is $56,000. This is probably the nicest house weve ever had to sell, Vilas commented. There were some arguments for a higher base price, but Bousley maintained property values in Niagara are down and they need to get this one back on the tax roll.
A 73X120 vacant lot next door to that house is also offered for sale, with bids starting at $50.
Also in the City of Niagara, an older home with a car port on a .14-acre lot at 125 Hemlock Street, will be offered for a starting price of $2,000. Vilas said the house is in fair condition. It was assessed at $29,000.
Two properties in the City of Peshtigo will be up for auction. They are a 2-story house at 391 Cranberry Ave. and a 66X165 vacant lot next door, which is being sold separately. Supervisor Larry Nichols suggested selling the lot first, and then the house, since the house purchaser may be willing to pay more for the lot. The house is reported to be in fair condition.
Administrative Assistant Kelly Hartman said there is a lot of interest in the house, which she feels is in good shape,with a good foundation.
Thats a nice neighborhood. This house will sell, Mans agreed.
The committee set the starting bid at $5,000 for the house and $100 for the lot.
Vilas reported that in the past they have given buyers 90 days to complete financing arrangements for their purchases, but that is now being cut to 30 days. The bids require 25 percent down. He said Mattison told him they could change the purchase terms without committee action, but the change is on the agenda for the committees meeting on Thursday, May 8.
Moving on to other business, the committee recommended granting Wisconsin Public Service two easements in the Town of Pembine to put utility lines underground. Documents are to be prepared and recorded at WPS expense. The utility already has easements for overhead lines in both locations, one of which is at the County Highway Shop and the other cutting a cross a corner of county property.
Vilas reported an access permit was issued to Kirk Eklund for a property in the Town of Athelstane.
Assistant Forest Administrator Marcus Isaacson 408 acres of forest have been set up for sales so far in 2014. Appraised value for the year to date is $235,776.
DNR Forestry Liaison Officer Dan Mertz reported they are going to close another tree nursery due to lack of demand for seedlings. The nursery at Hayward was closed a year ago and either Wisconsin Rapids or Boscobel will now be closed. Mertz said 20 years ago in an average year 200,000 to 300,000 trees were planted on private land, and this year there are orders for 50,000 trees.
It was the last meeting for Walker, who chaired the Forestry and Parks Committee for over 30 years. Walker did not seek reelection to County Board for the term beginning later in April.
There were cake and refreshments in his honor, and most of the courthouse personnel stopped in to wish Walker well. Walker received a card and the cake from courthouse employees, and was told everyone in the courthouse contributed.
Mertz had a small present for him from the DNR - a framed photo from the dedication of the new Ranger Station in Wausaukee about 15 years ago. Mertz recalled Judy Wagner was committee chair when he started at the Ranger Station 20 years ago, but Walker has been chair during most of the intervening years.
Youve been a key player in implementing and strengthening our partnership, DNR Representative Cole Couvillion told Walker.
Weve had a good working relationship for many years, Walker agreed. The DNR has been very good to Marinette County, and Marinette County has been very good to the DNR.
Retired Forest Administrator John Scott was also on hand to wish his former mentor well.
Ken Mattison, who now has taken over as committee chair, welcomed Scott.
Mattison asked about the fire situation this spring, and Couvillion said there were a few fires this spring in the southern part of the state, but there is still lots of snow in the northern woods I love the heavy wet snow we just had, Couvillion declared. That can keep up until greenup! The time in spring when the snows are gone and before the woods green up is the worst time for forest fires in Wisconsin.
In honor of Walkers retirement, Vilas had done some calculations.
In the 32 years Walker spent as a County Board Supervisor, Marinette County planted 6,327,018 trees. If those trees were spaced six feet apart the row would stretch 7,189 miles, which is one third of the way around the world at the equator, Vilas said.
In other action:
*The committee received two propane bids, one from Larson Cooperative for $1.69.5 per gallon and one from UP Propane for $1.59.9, which is up from $1.27 last year. UPs low bid was accepted. Mans praised UP for their service, commenting that when propane prices skyrocketed this winter, UP Propane honored their agreement with the county and kept the tanks filled at the agreed-upon price of $1.27 per gallon.
Bid for garbage pickup were received from Waste Management and Advantage Disposal. Waste Management had low bid last year, and Vilas pointed out they had cut their prices for this year by nearly half. The bid again went to Waste Management.
Assistant Parks Administrator Dave Marquardt reported as of March 3, all park employees were back on the job. There were 50 applicants for a limited term employee position with the Parks Department. Vilas and Marquardt had narrowed the list down to six who would be interviewed.
Marquardt was preparing snowmobile and ATV trail applications, which were due on Tuesday, April 15.
Financial reports showed Parks income so far in 2014 is way ahead of last year. Rental of the Goodman Park Cabin in particular is way up so far. Nichols noted Twin Bridge Park is filled every weekend.
Nichols suggested the time has come to move forward with construction of the new camping loop at Twin Bridge.
Marquardt told him there is money for design work in the 2014 budget.
The Amberg crew will do the grunt work, Vilas said. The plans are this spring to get the camping loop laid out and do the loop itself as time permits. That would include clearing the land and building the roads.
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