Town of Cooks Valley

Regular Town Board Meeting

February 13, 2012

Chairman Darrel Fehr called the meeting to order on February 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm.   The supervisors present were:  David Clements and John Sykora.   Other officers present were:  Victoria Trinko-Clerk and Judith A. Prince-treasurer. See attached list for delegation present.  Also present but not on the attached list was John Anderson, attorney, representing EOG.
Certification of proper posting for the scheduled town board meeting:  The notice for the February town board meeting was duly posted on February 3, 2012 and reposted on February 12, 2012 in the 3 designated places within the Town of Cooks Valley. 
PUBLIC COMMENT:  There were no public comments.
Comment and discussion by Bob Irwin, town assessor, concerning the affects of sand mining on property values and other related issues:  Bob Irwin informed the delegation that property values overall in Wisconsin have dropped 25-30% but the property values in the Town of Cooks Valley have dropped about 15% overall.  Properties within the vicinity of sand mine have not gone up for sale or have not sold.  Until a property sells within the vicinity of sand mine, the value of property can not be determined.  As of now properties within a 5 mile radius of the assessor’s house, which is not located by sand mine, have been for sale and have dropped their prices.  Q.  What are the property values of people with sand?  Are they going up?  A.  When a mine is opened up, the Dept. of Revenue picks up that tax bracket as the assessment is through manufacturing and the town assessor is not responsible for that assessment.  If their property value increases, their taxes will increase.   There is a proposal of a property value guarantee from EOG if the property is within ¼ mile of the mine site.  There is a term-sale under duress-which could be interpreted as a drop in property value due to the proximity of a mine site.  Q.  If sand mine buys a property, what will happen to the house?  Will someone be placed in the house?  Will that value go up?  The placement of people in an acquired  property by a sand mine company will be at the discretion of the sand mine.  They may find people to live in it.  Q.  If the property is outside of the ¼ mile limit; will the value of the property change?  A.  Again, until a property sells, the value cannot be determined.  The assessor requested if anyone can find a sale that could be comparable in proximity to sand mine, they should inform the town assessor or bring the information to a Board of Review.  The assessor is not aware of all sales and would appreciate any information regarding sales of property located next to a sand mine.  In Blair County, the sand mine has bought 700 acres to establish a buffer zone and has continued to purchase acreage to maintain the buffer zone as the mine has expanded.  In regard to a gravel pit affecting property values, there has not been a change in property values due to a gravel pit.  This phenomenon may be due to the following factors:  gravel pits may not operate year long, the operating times are sporadic, and there is not the volume of truck traffic.  Question about property designations- until a permit is applied for and granted, the value of the property is not assessed or looked at differently.  Land that has been designated under a reclamation plan as a mining site but presently  assessed as agricultural and used as agricultural will remain agricultural until actually being mined.  Therefore a 27 acre reclamation plan with 15 acres being mined and the remaining 12 being used for crops, the 12 acres would still be considered agricultural and assessed at that property value.
Discussion and possible action on budget categories:  no action was taken
Approval of the January 9, 2012 regular monthly town board meeting minutes:  David Clements made a motion to approve the January 9, 2012 regular monthly town board meeting minutes.  John Sykora seconded the motion.  The motion carried 3-0. 
Approval of the February financial Report:   David Clements made a motion to approve the February financial report.  John Sykora seconded the motion.  The motion carried 3-0. 
Reading and Approval of the January bills:  David Clements made a motion to approve the January bills.  John Sykora seconded the motion.  The motion carried 3-0.  The clerk reported the remaining balance for the prepay on snowplowing was $11,482.76.
Building Permits:   no building permits were issued.
Animal Patrol Contract:  Calvin Swartz informed the board the only change to the previous contract was review of the contract would be in December 2012 instead of January 2013.  John Sykora made a motion to approve the animal patrol contract.  Darrel Fehr seconded the motion.  The motion carried 3-0.  Calvin and Sue Swartz will be the animal control officers picking up strays and transporting the strays to the Chippewa Humane Association.
Discussion on the Non-Metallic Mining Ordinance:  Chairman Darrel Fehr informed the delegation the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the ruling by Judge Isaacson and ruled the Non-Metallic Mining ordinance is valid.  Procedures will progress toward having the sand companies complete the application process toward a mining permit.  Q.  Will the mines in operation continue to operate as they have been doing prior to the Supreme Court ruling?  Supervisor David Clements has contacted various attorneys and the consensus was the ordinance may be retroactive.  The ordinance may supersede prior agreements.   Comments reflected the feeling that sand companies who have initiated mining operations have been aware of the existence of the Non-Metallic Mining ordinance, the initial ruling on the ordinance, the appeal and the possible final judgment of the ruling.  The chairman was advised by board to meet with the town attorney to discuss methods and ways to move forward after court decision on mining ordinance. The board will continue talks and negotiations with mining companies regarding the ordinance.
Discussion and possible action on traffic sign reflectivity:  The present signs in the Town of Cooks Valley are inferior in quality and must be replaced.  John Sykora made a motion to have the Chippewa County Highway Dept. replace 150 signs in the Town of Cooks Valley beginning in the northwest corner of the town.  David Clements seconded the motion.  The motion carried 3-0.
Discussion and possible action on Pete Sarauer-barn ramp:  Pete Sarauer has proposed the construction of portable ramp [on wheels] to enable the placement of hay bales into the hay barn by usage of a skidster.  A letter will be written to Pete Sarauer indicating the while the ramp is in the road right-of-way to transport bales into the hay barn he will be liable for any incidents and the ramp must be removed daily.  This letter will be signed by Pete Sarauer and the town board chairman.
Possible Approval of operators license application:  John Sykora made a motion to accept the operators license application for Calvin Swartz-Bloomer Rod & Gun Club.  David Clements seconded the motion.  The motion carried 3-0.
Chairman’s Report:

Dissemination of Information: 

A thank you and applause from the town board and delegation was extended to Vernon and Eunice Steinmetz for their years of dedicated service to the Town of Cooks Valley.  Their presence and service will be greatly missed.

ADJOURN:  Darrel Fehr made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:44 pm.  David Clements seconded the motion.  The motion carried 3-0.

Typed:  February 18, 2012                                                         Respectfully submitted,  
Approved:  March 12, 2012                                                       Victoria Trinko, town clerk