03/14/18 – Monthly Town Board Meeting Minutes

MARCH 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, Treasurer Overman and Fire Chief Nelson. Clerk Ferda was absent.

Motion was made by Brandt and 2nd by Cerman to approve the agenda. All in favor. Motion carried.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Motion was made by Huot and 2nd by McGuiness to approve the Town Board minutes of 2-14-18 and the Plan & Review Commission minutes 2-7-18. All in favor. Motion carried.

Overman presented the Treasurer’s report. February 2018 receipts were $260,524.33 and expenditures were $1,932,128.56 leaving a balance of $772,943.96.

The vouchers were presented for payment. Motion to approve checks numbered #022759 through #022805 (including EFT checks) in the amount of $40,934.26 was made by McGuiness and 2nd by Huot. All in favor. Motion carried. It was noted that due to a glitch in the software program, the balances on the check register are incorrect. This matter will be resolved shortly.

Hucker reported that the 2017 year-end financial report has been submitted to the state.

Scott Crosby introduced himself and stated that he has been asked to speak on behalf of the people who own property in Spider Lake and who are opposed to the short-term rental ordinance (Ord. #2018-01). His presentation is summarized as follows. He said at last month’s meeting that many questions were asked but few, if any, answers were given by the board including how many property owners are engaged in renting their properties – answer no idea, how many complaints have been received – answer according to the town chair you wouldn’t believe the number of complaints, was there any attempt to interview owners who are currently renting their homes – answer nobody knows who there are, was there any effort to understand the economic impact of this ordinance – answer no answer. Crosby stated after much research and contacting the Sawyer County Sheriff’s office, he received six documents from the clerk’s office of which only one was a complaint. The other five documents were elaborate lobbying documents imploring the board to ban all short-term rentals. Out of 160 calls between 1-1-17 and 2-28-18, only two complaints could possibly be contributed to short-term rentals. In order to be a legitimate complaint, it must be documented and verifiable. He stated that approximately 18 owners openly advertise, 6 or 8 are managed by property companies and 3 or 4 rent to the same family every year. This ordinance has generated over 200 responses in opposition to this ordinance. The economic impact of this ordinance was not even considered by the board. Businesses in the area will not survive without tourism dollars. The largest single and most pervasive economic issue is the erosion of property rights. When property is purchased, the buyer is purchasing a bundle of rights. If you allow your rights to be eroded or reduced, it will quickly have a negative impact on your property value. These rights are right of possession, the right of control that allows the title holder the right to manage and to use the property in any means that are deemed legal, the right of exclusion that allows the title holder to limit who may or may not enter the property, the right of enjoyment that allows the title holder to participate in any activity that is pleasurable while on his property as long as the activity falls within the confinements of the law, right of disposition that protects the title holder to transfer the ownership either permanently or temporarily to another qualified party at will as long as the mortgage is paid in full and subject to no liens on the property. Condos are usually worth less money than a free standing home. This is due to restrictive covenants. Imagine a town which turns into an owner’s association by putting on so many restrictive covenants that buyers would not be interested in purchasing. This would impact all property owners. The language in the 2017 state budget bill gives towns certain authority to create ordinances and restrictions on short-term rentals. The ordinance and restrictions must be reasonable and align with existing laws. Crosby said he sought the opinion of four attorneys, who specialize in STR’s statewide, and they came to the same conclusion that several areas of this ordinance are outside those directives. Crosby stated that he learned the board was not supplied with copies of the state budget language. The board was not supplied with any information except the admitted hatred of the chairman for short-term rentals and the six lobbying letters. He stated that there are a few common themes in these letters. There is an emphasis on “residents” as if they are some kind of superior class of taxpayers. Residents have no more important rights than your neighbor that may not be a resident. Residency allows you the right to vote. The state defines a legal resident as a person who maintains his domicile in Wisconsin whether or not he is physically present in Wisconsin or lives outside the state. Another recurring theme is conducting an enterprise in a residential area. Having people living in your home as you would is not a common business such as a beauty shop or repair shop. Health & safety concerns are also a recurring theme. The activities of short-term renters are no different than property owners. There is no evidence to support the claim that renters create a higher risk or increased threat to health and safety. There were numerous comparisons made to cities who have banned STR’s. These cities have nothing in common with Spider Lake. What is relevant is what is going on in our neighboring towns. Other than Cable, all boards have decided not to impose an ordinance, fee or restrictions but to refer all matters to Sawyer County. Cable has adopted the state’s program word for word and has established a fee for each rental unit at two dollars. Since Sawyer County’s attempt to restrict STR’s was defeated, they have applied and received agent of the state designation which means Sawyer County will act on behalf of the state in all matters regarding STR’s and tourist rooming houses. The County will grant licenses, do inspections, collect taxes and fees and provide enforcement by the sheriff’s office. The most troubling theme are trigger words such as transient, these type of people, negative elements which only further displays the author’s bias, ignorance and bigotry. These letters do not display the opinion of the vast majority of the taxpayer’s in Spider Lake. Nowhere in a democratic society do we allow a small minority to decide policies, nor should fear or gossip or intimidation influence the people elected to represent all the taxpayers, not just residents. The group I represent feels the board has failed to deliver in its fiduciary responsibilities by not executing due diligence by not researching the facts on STR’s prior to adopting this ordinance. This ordinance is not a compromise. It was devised as a workaround to create a de-facto ban. It features restrictions so tight to discourage taxpayers from exercising their right to rent their property. The County is fully equipped to administer STR’s and this would save the town a lot of money. Cerman & McGuiness have both stated that they voted for the ordinance because it could be changed if necessary. This is your opportunity to make changes. All events that take place in the Hayward area require lodging. The group I represent are firm in its resolve and will bring a legal suit should it become necessary. It would be a shame to spend the taxpayer’s money defending this ordinance when a vast majority of taxpayers are opposed. This ordinance is prejudicial, punitive and discriminatory to taxpayers that want to rent their property. It has damaged the public trust in this board. It is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. On behalf of the group I represent, I am demanding a motion be made to rescind Ord. #2017-01 in its entirety and refer all short-term rental issues to Sawyer County. Hucker asked if the board had any questions. A very lengthy and contentious discussion ensued. Cerman stated he would like some time to prepare a rebuttal to Crosby’s presentation as he feels some of Crosby’s remarks are baloney. Hucker stated he didn’t recall anyone on the board saying what Crosby suggested was said or done. Hucker explained that the board unanimously passed an amendment to the zoning ordinance last year to address the short-term rental issue. Then in September 2017, the state legislature eliminated that option through the zoning ordinance. The town’s counsel recommended using Ashwaubenon’s short-term rental ordinance as a guide. In February 2018, the WTA has distributed a form of ordinance for consideration. This ordinance is similar to what the town adopted with some exceptions. The state solved the problem at the Sawyer County level because it is clear that municipalities can issue their own licenses dealing with STR’s. That’s why the County chose to rescind its ordinance. The town’s ordinance matches up with what the state allows. Crosby disagreed. Hucker further explained that the town enacted its own ordinance rather than going with Sawyer County because the town has its own zoning and does not follow the County’s zoning. The town has continued to maintain the integrity of its zoning system in ways very different from what the County has done. Huot stated that this ordinance is unfair and unjust to many law abiding taxpaying residents or nonresidents. A motion was made by Huot and 2nd by Brandt to rescind Ord. #2018-01. Hucker advised that this was not on the agenda. Huot stated a committee should be formed to work on the ordinance with the community being involved. Brandt stated that the WTA ordinance is shorter and fairer and could be used as a guide. He also stated that input is needed from our constituents. Cerman stated the ordinance should not be rescinded and that a committee should be formed to make any necessary changes. Hucker also was not in favor of rescinding the ordinance and is concerned because this matter is not on the agenda. Someone could claim later that this was an inappropriate motion. Vote on the motion was taken with Huot and Brandt voting aye, Hucker and Cerman voting nay and McGuiness abstaining. Motion failed. McGuiness stated he abstained because he is concerned that this motion was not on the agenda which the board is to follow. This item could be placed on next month’s agenda. More contentious discussion ensued which included whether or not any of the board members votes are biased (Hucker does not believe his vote is biased, stated he is not anti STR and has not changed his position from the beginning), putting this issue to a referendum, trust in the board is gone, this ordinance should be rescinded and replaced with a fair and equitable ordinance, rescind the ordinance and use the state STR program and whose authority does the town operate under. Hucker asked Cerman to form a committee to see if any progress could be made and report back to the board next month. He suggested that Brandt also be on the committee.

Plan & Review Commission Report
Zoning Administrator Report – Hucker reported that the 2017 report was updated and corrected.

The Commission discussed changes that need to be made to the town’s comprehensive plan. Hucker will forward the items that were discussed to the Northwest Planning Commission.

Committee Reports
Roads – Matchett reported that a fuel filter was replaced on Truck 4; however, if this does not correct the problem, the fuel pump may have to be replaced. The Ford pick-up’s mass air flow sensor has been reset and may need to be replaced.

McGuiness reported that road bans will go into effect at noon on March 15th. The town has a six ton limit. Exempt from the bans are milk trucks, septic trucks, school busses and propane trucks. The state has changed its weight limitations on propane trucks. They can deliver any time providing the trucks are only half full and meet other conditions in the new statute.

Hucker reported that a complaint was received regarding a mailbox being knocked over due to snow pressure while plowing. Matchett advised that if this particular mailbox could be moved to the other side of the driveway, the driveway would create relief from the snow pressure. The town does not have a formal policy regarding mailboxes. Matchett distributed copies of the county’s policy and the WIDOT guidelines. Hucker suggested that homeowners should be advised in the December annual letter, that when replacing mailboxes, they should follow the US Postal Services’ guidelines.

A motion was made by McGuiness and 2nd by Brandt ratifying Hucker’s action giving permission to allow RM Bay Logging, Inc. to haul during the road bans on Short Rd., FR174 & State Highway 77. Hucker advised that Bay Logging has posted a $5,000.00 cash bond and he must obtain permission from the USFS. All in favor. Motion carried.

There is no update on the Town Hall Road Project.

Regarding the USFS repairs to culverts on FR 205 (Upper A), McGuiness reported that the project should be bid in June and work should start in July. No permit is needed for detour signs.

Hucker reported that Pat Sanchez has received notice that payment is in the mail from FEMA for Rock Lake Rd. and Pederson Rd.

Health & Safety – Fire Department Report – Fire Chief Nelson reported that people can still burn as there is still snow on the ground.

Regarding communications, Hucker reported that a decision needs to be made on which town will take the lead on the repeater. The Forest Service wants one town to be responsible for the paperwork, frequencies, FCC license, etc. Hucker suggested that DSC Communications should be involved in the process with respect to the sales people and technical people. Hucker stated that if Spider Lake takes the lead, the FCC license and frequency would be in the town’s name and a cooperative agreement would need to be worked out between Spider Lake and Round Lake to share it. Discussion was held. Motion was made by Huot and 2nd by Brandt for Spider Lake to take the lead on this project and to authorize the town chair to sign any paperwork. Hucker noted that this will be on a cooperative basis with Round Lake. All in favor. Motion carried.

Solid Waste – A request has been made by Northwest WI Regional to use the town’s dump site on 7-28-18 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm for a hazardous waste site collection. It was noted that the collection will be held at the upper parking lot.

Clerk’s Report

Other Correspondence – Hucker noted that he and Ferda have received emails and letters regarding short- term rentals. He will give this information to Cerman.

A letter was received from Lulich Implements promoting Diamond Mowers.

A letter was received from the Attorney General regarding a round table to be held on March 22nd for improvement of the criminal justice system in Sawyer County. Hucker noted that there has been discussion about adding another judge because of overload. Huot may attend the meeting.

The spring election will be held on 4-3-18.

The annual meeting will be held on 4-17-18.

Motion was made by Huot and 2nd by McGuiness to adjourn. All in favor. Motion carried.

Christine Ferda
Town Clerk

Click the link below to download the minutes as a PDF