TOWN OF SPIDER LAKE, SAWYER CO., WI
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MONTHLY MEETING
FEBRUARY 14, 2018
The Town of Spider Lake Board of Supervisors monthly meeting was called to order by Town Chair Hucker at 7:00 PM. Present were Hucker, Brandt, McGuiness, Cerman, Huot and Treasurer Overman. Fire Chief Nelson is on a call. Clerk Ferda was absent.
Motion was made by McGuiness and 2nd by Brandt to approve the agenda. All in favor. Motion carried.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Motion was made by Huot and 2nd by Cerman to approve the Town Board minutes of 1-10-18, the Plan & Review Commission minutes and public hearing minutes of 1-3-18. Hucker noted that the clerk received an email from John Hilpisch that he had concerns about comments being made during the meeting not being included in the minutes. Hucker stated that Hilpisch is accurate in his statement that Hucker stated at the January meeting that he wasn’t sure how preexisting contracts would be handled, but they would be looked at on a case by case basis. Item #9 of the agenda, if approved, addresses the issue to allow short-term rental owners to honor contracts entered into prior to January 31, 2018 without risk of prosecution for violating the Short-Term Rental Ordinance. Hucker feels this moots the minutes issue. He stated that minutes are not intended to be a verbatim discussion of everything that happens at a meeting and the clerk has advised that we provide more detail in our minutes than the state wants us to. Minutes are to provide summaries, not running commentary. This is now on the record that Hucker made the statement regarding pre-existing short-term rental contracts. All in favor. Motion carried.
Overman presented the Treasurer’s report. January 2018 receipts were $1,893,097.22 and expenditures were $229,860.42 leaving a balance of $2,444,548.19. $1,829,063.23 is tax revenue. Most of the tax revenue has been disbursed to the other taxing jurisdictions in February.
The vouchers were presented for payment. Hucker noted that there was a large check made payable to Mark Matchett. This was for repairs to the pick-up truck which was traveling to Rice Lake to purchase belts when the entire exhaust (EPA) system blew. It was towed to Link Ford for repairs and since the town has no account with Link Ford, Link Ford wanted payment in full before releasing the truck. Matchett received authorization from Hucker to put the bill on his credit card. Motion to approve checks numbered #022706 through #022758 (including EFT checks) in the amount of $1,947,183.98 was made by McGuiness and 2nd by Huot. All in favor. Motion carried.
Hucker reviewed a corrected year-end revenue financial report for 2017. Ferda had advised him that two revenue items from sale of recycling and miscellaneous were included in the lake monitoring line item. These line items have been corrected and the total revenue amount remains the same. Hucker also presented the 2017 state annual financial report that will be submitted to the state by March 31st. Hucker noted that amendments to the 2018 budget may be on the agenda for next month’s meeting.
Hucker noted that he spoke with Richard Schneider of Republic Services about the possibility of the town board adjusting how road bans are handled. Schneider was advised to attend the meeting to propose his idea that the town allow for greater flexibility for garbage trucks during the road weight restriction period. Hucker told Schneider that the board has had reservations in the past because it is difficult to make an onsite determination for road damage when it is a weight load problem. Schneider was not in attendance.
Motion was made by Huot and 2nd by Brandt to allow short-term rental owners to honor contracts for 2018 rentals entered into prior to January 31, 2018 without risk of prosecution for violating the “Operation of Short-Term Rental” provisions contained in section 3(a) or 3(c) of the ordinance. Discussion was held. STR owners or managers should be prepared to provide documentation of when contracts for 2018 were entered into. All in favor. Motion carried.
Hucker is proposing to set May 1, 2018 as the deadline for submission of 2018 STR license applications. Brandt stated that the board should get a chance to review this ordinance. Brandt stated it was distributed in December, passed in January and I was not here in January to vote. There was no chance for the board to discuss this ordinance. Hucker replied that people at the January meeting had the opportunity for discussion. Some of the audience disagreed. Brandt stated that the license fee is unreasonable and is three times the amount of the state license fee. Hucker advised that the fee is the same as the Village of Ashwaubenon. Brandt advised that this village has 16,000 residents and probably have their own inspectors. Hucker stated that the fee could be reconsidered, which was indicated at last month’s meeting, after the town has a year’s experience under its belt. Brandt stated that Cerman’s motion was that the ordinance could be reconsidered, but not having to wait until next year. Hucker advised that if the fee is to be reconsidered, it must be on the agenda as an action item and it is not on the agenda tonight. Cerman noted that if the fee is an issue, it should be put on a future agenda. Cerman also noted that he voted for the ordinance only if it could be fine-tuned at any time. A motion was made by Brandt to set June 30, 2018 as the deadline for submission of 2018 STR license applications. 2nd by McGuiness. All in favor. Motion carried.
Hucker stated that the Citation & Fee Schedule needs to be amended to include a provision for violations to the short-term rental ordinance. The fee for a citation would be $250.00 per day. Brandt questioned the “per day” portion of the citation fee. Hucker advised that the fee is in line with other citation fees. Huot asked who would enforce it. Hucker replied that if a violation occurred, the town’s attorney would file a complaint. The landowner would be contacted first before a complaint would be filed. Cerman is concerned on how to monitor whether landowners are complying with the short-term ordinance. Hucker stated that the fees are intended to cover the cost of enforcing the ordinance. As long as there is no cost to the taxpayers and the enforcement pays for itself, Cerman made a motion to amend the Citation Ordinance Fee Schedule to include a $250.00 per day fee for violation of the short-term rental ordinance. 2nd by Hucker. Hucker stated that we are either going to go ahead with this in a meaningful fashion or not. If there is nothing in place, you are putting the taxpayers at risk for the enforcement. Huot stated he could not second this motion because he does not agree with the short-term rental ordinance. Motion carried with 3 aye votes and two nay votes by Brandt & Huot.
Hucker noted that at last month’s meeting, Bobbi Huot was concerned with privacy issues in the short-term rental ordinance. He reviewed this matter with two attorneys and they both advised that there is no privacy issue. Bobbi Huot stated that residents pay property tax on property, not on income. What right does the township have to know what income I might incur on a rental? Hucker replied that this is not the question that was asked last month and that is the question he is addressing.
A motion was made by Huot and 2nd by McGuiness to appoint the Town Fire Chief as the inspector under the STR ordinance at $125.00 per inspection. All in favor. Motion carried.
Overman reported that there were four speakers at the WTA county meeting discussing human trafficking, short-term rentals, room tax and the need for volunteers, in any capacity, to help with any catastrophic events that may occur within the county. Overman noted that the low interest loan program provided by the Commissioner of Public Lands may be eliminated. The funds would be used to improve state funds instead. The town has used this loan program several times.
Plan & Review Commission Report
Hucker reported that the request for registration of a nonconforming use as a short term rental by landowners John Parker and Linda Chandler was tabled last month. The PRC, at its February meeting, voted 4-1 not to allow for grandfathering of the use because the state license was not obtained before the effective date of the ordinance.
Zoning Administrator Report – Hucker reported that Boss distributed the 2017 report. Boss wants to review the accuracy of the data of prior years before finalizing the report.
The proposal to update the town’s comprehensive plan from NWRPC was signed and should be received shortly. Hucker has requested a timeline. A public hearing should be scheduled sometime this summer.
Roads – McGuiness reported that the road crew has been sanding roads and brushing trees. The Ford pick-up has been repaired. There are stress cracks on each of the plows and they will be repaired on Saturday.
Regarding an update on the Town Hall Road Project, McGuiness reported receiving reports from NWBE. NWBE is close to making a decision on what is the best plan to proceed. A meeting will be scheduled.
Hucker reported receiving emails from Mark Beuning of the Forest Service regarding the repairs to culverts on FR 205 (Upper A). Beuning indicated the road will be closed two different days this summer for the repairs which does not include the blacktopping. The road will be closed 1-2 days for blacktopping.
The final FEMA reports on Rock Lake Rd. and Pederson Rd. have been submitted.
Fire Chief Nelson arrived.
Health & Safety – Fire Department Report – Fire Chief Nelson reported that the brush piles being burned along Highway 77 near Clam Lake is being done by the county for road clearing and the county has obtained permission from the Forest Service. All equipment is working properly.
Hucker and Nelson attended the CWPP meeting on 1-16-18. The Town of Round appears to be interested in joining. This will require a modification to the CWPP. The plan is now five years old and must be updated.
Hucker reported that counsel has advised that there is no statute addressing the issue of bridging of service for volunteer fire members and that the town board could make that decision. A motion was made by McGuiness and 2nd by Cerman to allow for bridging of service for volunteer fire members. All in favor. Motion carried.
Hucker and Nelson met with the Town of Round Lake Fire Chief and Town Chair, Rolf Hansen, regarding improving the quality of communications. A rough estimate for infrastructure costs would be a shared cost between $18,000 and $25,000. Hucker reported that the Forest Service is interested. The private carriers (cell towers) have not been approached yet. This would require the town having its own repeater.
Solid Waste – Brandt is currently working on the year-end recycling report.
Other Correspondence – A thank you card was received from the Ted Pederson family for the flowers sent on behalf of the town for his funeral. He was on the town board for ten years.
A 2018 Hazardous Material & Waste Disposal Training brochure was received with a listing of seminar dates.
Several emails were received from the state regarding changes being made in building and fire codes.
A reminder that the spring primary election is on 2-20-18. Polls are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.
There will be a WTA workshop at Lakewoods on March 9, 2018.
Hucker submitted the Census BAS Boundary Survey for 2018 and acknowledgment has been received. He noted that there have been no boundary changes in the town.
Questions from Audience and Other Matters for Discussion Purposes Only
Bill Voight is the town’s representative on the Sawyer County Board. He stated that he is the chair for the public safety committee and they are in the process of selecting a new ambulance administrator. He reported that earlier today, the Town of Winter rejected the room tax. He listed all the safety precautions being taken for the Birkebeiner ski race. He attended a legislative session in Madison. He reported that the governor’s budget has allocated $31.5 million dollars for access grants for broadband across northwest Wisconsin. Sales tax revenue of 5 billion dollars is generated yearly; however, 6 billion is deferred by things not taxed. The enrollment in the UW system for a four year degree has declined by 50% since 2001. The two year program is being expanded and the enrollment has nearly doubled. He also discussed job and employment statistics. There will be no increase in fuel tax but the legislature is looking at implementing tolls on the interstate highways. $134 million dollars has been appropriated to fund road improvements over the next four years. According to the governor, Wisconsin is the 2nd worst state for roads.
Bobbi Huot thanked Voight for all the safety precautions for the ski race as there will be many senior citizens skiing the race. She also thanked the town board for their time and effort is serving the town. She asked whether the STR inspector would be responsible for covering occupancy, wiring, code violations, septic and all other issues. Hucker advised that if he identifies issues, he will have the flexibility to use his judgment and call in a specialist. She asked why the township feels the need to examine revenue with regards to rentals. Hucker replied that this is a way to see the overall volume of rentals and a way to check to see if people are complying with the 180 day rental period. We’re not asking for tax returns, just revenue information with respect to the rentals. If the revenue does not correspond with the 180 rental period, then there is a problem with enforcement. Huot asked how the town will know what landlords are charging for daily rents, specific events, specific time of year, etc. Hucker replied that many owners post their rates on a website and initially the town will operate on a good faith basis. Huot asked if a person rents their property for 366 days, does that exempt them from a short-term rental. Hucker replied that if someone is renting for 30 days or more to an individual, they don’t need a short-term rental license. A month to month tenancy is also not a short-term rental.
Margaret Wheeler asked what happened that the town board felt a short-term rental ordinance was needed. Hucker replied that we have been looking at this for two years because of complaints. Wheeler asked how many complaints and are they documented. Hucker stated the complaints are not documented and there is a high probability there have been more than 20 complaints. He estimates there are thirty to fifty rentals in the town. Wheeler replied so the few are setting the standard for the many. Hucker didn’t agree with Wheeler’s statement. He stated that there is a clear indication that there has been no effort on the part of some landowners to obtain a state license until the town decided to pass an ordinance. The STR ordinance will apply to everyone in the town who rents their property on a short-term basis. Hucker stated that this has been precipitated by the state taking away the town’s ability to handle this as a zoning matter and what we have passed is what the state allows us to pass. Wheeler feels that those who have been in compliance with a state license, inspections, etc. should be exempt from the ordinance if they can prove they have been following the state law for a long time. Hucker replied that he saw no way to exempt anyone from the ordinance. She stated we are being punished.
Michael Wheeler asked if a town board meeting was the only input that the public has for an ordinance. Hucker replied yes. Wheeler stated we had to be at the meeting where the ordinance was first introduced and that no one had a copy of the ordinance or any idea what was in the ordinance and no one was allowed to speak until after the ordinance was passed. There was no discourse. Hucker said that statement was not accurate and that there was substantial discourse before the board acted on the ordinance at the last meeting. Wheeler responded not from the public. The public was allowed five minutes. Hucker stated that the time allowed the public to speak was closer to thirty-five minutes. Wheeler replied under the total intimidating structure of your government position of yourself. Anyone opposing the ordinance were intimidated. There is a very big concern by a lot of people of the integrity of the procedure of that ordinance.
Parker Chandler stated that he has already been paid by his renters for 2018. Do I have to pay the $500.00 license fee even though I am free from prosecution? My fee structure was not built for the license fee and I cannot ask my renters for more money now. Hucker replied yes. Chandler stated that the state license fee is $110.00 and he is proposing that this matter be placed on next month’s docket and to amend the fee closer to the state level and to do inspections every three years. He will send an email about items in the ordinance that he feels are vague.
John Hilpisch asked why the STR ordinance did not apply to resorts. Hucker stated that if a resort has a hotel/motel license from the state, they are not subject to the STR ordinance. Resorts, bed & breakfasts, hotels and motels are state licensed facilities. Hilpisch then asked if a short-term rental can apply for a state resort license. Hucker said no, because a short-term rental is not operating as a resort. If you applied for a resort license, you would then have to meet all the zoning conditions which would include obtaining a rezone and a conditional use permit. If the property is zoned RR1, you are not allowed to become a resort. If the property is zoned RR2, you could then conceivably get a conditional use permit from the town for a special use as a resort. If the rezone and conditional use permit was approved, you would have to get a license from the State of Wisconsin and I’m not sure the state would issue a resort license for one unit. Hilpisch asked if a short-term rental landowner is zoned RR2, would they be subject to the STR ordinance. Hucker replied yes because it is not a resort and just because you want to be a resort does not eliminate the need to apply for a conditional use permit to become a resort. Hilpisch asked it any RR2 property would be eligible to become a resort. Hucker replied theoretically yes, but you still have to comply with the zoning ordinance to get permission to become a resort. It’s not automatic. Hilpisch stated that if a conditional use permit was obtained for a resort, would you have to have a STR permit. Hucker answered that he couldn’t say that would be the case because he doesn’t know how you would operate a single unit under a hotel/motel license. He doesn’t know if the town plan commission or the town board would approve a CUP for a single unit to become a resort. Hilpisch asked Hucker to define a unit. Hucker answered that a unit is a single unit of rental. If you have a home, that is one unit. I don’t know of any one unit resorts that have ever been approved. Hilpisch asked if your property is zoned RR2, can you add homes to your property. Hucker replied no. Hucker advised Hilpisch that he is asking hypothetical questions that cannot be answered the way he is asking. Hucker stated that if you have a dwelling on a single lot, you cannot add a 2nd dwelling to the lot. Hilpisch asked if you have a resort, can you add another dwelling. Hucker replied not unless you meet the stringent requirements of the zoning ordinance. Hilpisch asked again, what is the definition of a unit. Hucker replied a single dwelling. Hilpisch asked what constitutes a dwelling. Hucker replied a rental unit. If you had a two flat, that could be considered two units.
Bobbi Huot stated that many resorts have been reverted to condos. Could those owners, if they so chose to rent, could they apply for a resort license. Hucker replied no. All those owners need to apply for a STR license. Huot asked if they could get the approval of the state, could that be a possibility. Hucker replied no because it is not a resort, it is not under common management and it is not managed by the owner or the person responsible for the entire resort.
Bill Bauer asked what is the definition of private property. He stated that the ordinance is a violation of personal rights. You own the property and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. You can burn it down, you can rent it, you can have guests for free. You are trying to infringe on American’s private rights of property. I don’t think you are going to get away with it and I don’t think you are going to get out of here without a lawsuit. It’s going to cost the taxpayer’s money and you are going to try and defend your nonissue in court. This has been a hot issue for years. Hucker stated that you are not just taking on the town. You are taking on the state as well. The ordinance that was passed is consistent with what state law says towns can do. Audience members said can do, not must do. Hucker replied that must is not the point. Can is.
Linda Chandler asked that since their property is already rented through October, if there is a violation during that period, does the grace period apply. Hucker replied yes for 2018. Chandler asked if the grill is too close to the house, we are not going to be fined $250.00 a day. Hucker replied I can’t say that. What was passed tonight is not a complete amnesty. It’s an amnesty that is related to days of rental. Chandler said so we would be subject to the fine. Hucker replied potentially yes.
Bill Bauer stated that other than the two items the state defined that the town could do, the board elected to do add additional requirements. He suggested the requirements under the safety value need to be looked at.
Nancy Bauer stated she is concerned about the statement that Cerman made. Cerman stated he would vote for the amendment to the Citation & Fee Schedule if it doesn’t cost the taxpayers any money. She said it sounds like the board doesn’t know how many people will obtain a license or what it is going to cost to enforce the ordinance. She thinks it will cost the taxpayer’s money and the ordinance is so vague.
Hucker stated that the board would take these issues into consideration and if the board members feel the need to amend the ordinance, he is not going to stand in the way. He would like to get this moving along. We tried to make adjustments by what we passed this evening. Brandt stated the ordinance needs to be reviewed and some of the ridiculous items removed such as where the grill can be located and how many bathrooms you have to have. All my cabins will be in violation next summer with the bathroom requirement. Only four people will be allowed in a cabin because there is only one bathroom.
Motion to adjourn was made by Huot and 2nd by McGuiness. All in favor. Motion carried.
Click the link below to download the minutes as a PDF