Sale paves way for cleanup of old mill

New owner of Waubeka landmark plans to repair building but needs approvals for more extensive work

THE FORMER MILL IN WAUBEKA has been sold for $1,000 to Charles Sheridan, who also owns the former button factory building across from the structure. Sheridan has told officials he hopes to clean up the mill property and complete repairs. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

The former mill property in Waubeka has been sold, and the first order of business for the new owner is to clean and repair the building, part of which collapsed last year.

The sale of the building was recorded with the Ozaukee County Register of Deeds Office on Monday. 

The sale — from Jacquie Voeks to Charles Sheridan’s Waubeka Development, which also owns the former button factory across the river from the mill — was for $1,000, according to county records.

The building, located at W4132 Mill St., is one of the oldest buildings in Waubeka and has been out of use for decades.

According to an email from Charles Sheridan Jr. to county Sanitation and Zoning Specialist Barry Sullivan, Sheridan wants to do work on the building “to prevent further deterioration.”

That includes cleaning, removing grain dust and ventilating the building by opening existing doors and windows on Mill Street and creating openings on the side that faces the Milwaukee River.

“We cannot remove all dust just by cleaning floors,” Sheridan wrote. “The dust is on the walls, ceilings and on machinery, etc., and it will take some time to get it all out.”

Sheridan said the work will include replacing the main roof beam and post to prevent further collapse. Extensive roof repairs also are needed.

It’s suspected that some of the materials contain asbestos. Sheridan said he would conduct testing.

Sullivan replied, however, that Sheridan can only “clean up what fell down and what is inside the building. The rest of the items you listed ... (are) structural and cannot occur without permits from the county and the Town of Fredonia.”

That’s because most of the property is in the floodplain of the Milwaukee River. 

“Any structural work ...  requires the entire property to be brought into full floodplain compliance,” Sullivan wrote. 

“Any work other than the removal of the debris from the collapsed portion without a permit from the county and the Town of Fredonia will be a violation.”

The first step, Sullivan wrote in a separate letter to Fredonia Town Clerk Bob Eichner, is for the property to be surveyed to show the location of the floodplain and elevation of the building.

And because the building is in the floodplain, it is subject to “the 50% rule of the floodplain development standard,” Sullivan wrote to Eichner. 

That means that work on the building cannot exceed 50% of the current market value of the building, which, Sullivan said, is $6,630. 

To avoid that rule, the building would have to be raised to be at least two feet above the floodplain.

Sheridan did not return an email seeking comment.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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