Town’s bid to buy properties falls apart

Port supervisor says board made mistake by not paying earnest money
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Town of Port Washington won’t be buying the two properties next to the town hall after all.

Town Chairman Jim Melichar announced June 4 that the owners of the two parcels notified the town they are terminating the purchase agreement.

They were able to do that, he said, because the town had not paid the $2,000 in earnest money for each of the parcels.

“They don’t want to sell them anymore, I guess,” said  Supr. Mike Didier, a real estate agent. “They have the ability to call our offer void. We did make a mistake in not getting the earnest money to them.”

The board referred the letter from the sellers’ attorney to Town Attorney Steve Cain to get his opinion.

“There’s not much else we can do,” Melichar said.

The town had reached an agreement earlier this year to buy the properties at 3703 and 3709 Highland Dr. from members of the Gantner family for $165,000 and $80,000, respectively.

The purchase, which was approved by residents during the annual meeting in April, was to close on July 17.

The purchase price raised some eyebrows at the time, especially since the properties were appraised for $157,600 and $27,000, respectively.

“Do you think they just want more money?” town resident Katherine Allen asked.

“They probably felt they were selling it too cheap,” Melichar said.

The purchase had reached a snag recently after a property inspection by the town revealed several problems with the house at 3703 Highland Dr., including the need to replace the roof.

Property owner Joanne Schmidt agreed to replace the roof on the south side of the house but not the north, eventually saying they would replace the entire roof if the town would contribute $5,000 — something the town did not agree to.

Didier said at the time that the roofers who inspected the house said the roof on the south side was “shot,” but the north side had about five more years of life.

Town officials questioned the viability of replacing only half the roof, with Melichar saying, “I think it should have a complete roof. That’s going to make it worth $165,000.”

Town Supr. Gary Schlenvogt noted that there are other issues with the house that the town was accepting, but he drew the line at the roof.

“The condition (to buy the house) was a new roof, not a new half roof,” he said.

Didier concurred, saying, “You can stop residents in the street, and you’re not going to find anyone who says half a roof’s OK.”

Because the roof was not in acceptable condition, he said, the town could call the offer to buy that parcel void. 

The town had expected to buy the property at 3709 Highland Dr., then raze the house and use the land to improve its recycling operations.

Officials said Monday they will look at their options to make changes to the recycling operations on the Town Hall property. 

Those options are expected to be discussed at the board’s July 2 meeting.

The property at 3703 Highland Dr. is being rented, and officials said they would continue that lease with an eye toward eventually selling the property for development.

 Development isn’t expected to come until the City of Port Washington forms a northside tax incremental financing district and extends sewer and water services to the Highland Road overpass, something the city is currently discussing. 

Once the utilities are at the town’s doorstep, it could extend them into the township, opening the door for significant development, officials said.


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Ozaukee Press

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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