Town, couple still at odds over property described as junkyard despite ruling


Ozaukee Press staff

More than four months after an Ozaukee County circuit judge ruled in favor of the Town of Saukville by declaring a property on Blueberry Road a public nuisance, town officials continue to work to have the property that has been described as a junkyard cleaned up.

Proceedings in the civil case against Kenneth and Linda Watry, who own the 11 acres at 4325 Blueberry Road that are at the center of the lawsuit, have been paused while the Watrys hire an attorney and the town attempts to negotiate a resolution with them, Town Chairman Kevin Kimmes said this week.

“The town’s intent is not to impose excessive fines or tell people what they can do with their property short of it constituting a public nuisance, using it for a junkyard and negatively affecting the values of adjacent properties,” Kimmes said.

Mr. Watry, contacted Tuesday, said, “It’s probably best that I don’t say anything. I have no comment because of ongoing litigation.”

After the town unsuccessfully ordered the Watrys to clean up their property, and after the couple built a berm on their property without a permit, the town sued them in May.

According to the lawsuit, the Watrys’ property, which is in a part of the town zoned for agricultural use and includes a house and several outbuildings, was littered at the time with abandoned vehicles, machinery, tractors, trailers and boats, as well as scrap metal, concrete pilings and commercial signs, according to the lawsuit.

In March, the town notified the Watrys in writing that their property constituted a public nuisance and directed them to clean it up and allow the town to inspect it.

Mr. Watry rejected the request and “vehemently objected to the town’s notice of violations and order to abate,” according to the lawsuit.

Mr. Watry renewed those objections at the May 17 Town Board meeting, again declining to clean up his land and refusing to allow a town inspection, the lawsuit states.

In August, Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy granted the town’s motion for a default and declaratory judgment and ordered the Watrys to abate the public nuisance on their property by removing and properly disposing of all trash, junked vehicles, boats, trailers, unsheltered personal property, vehicle parts, tools and other items unsuitable for agricultural use by Sept. 18.

If the Watrys do not comply, the court order allows the town to petition the court to seek “all necessary assistance for the abatement of the nuisance ... including the assistance of the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department, contractors and other agents.”

The town can then recover daily fines, costs and fees as determined by the court, according to the order.

On Aug. 18, two days after the deadline for abatement, town officials inspected the property.

“The ordinance isn’t black and white. It doesn’t say you can only have X-number of cars,” Kimmes said. “But it was vastly improved. It wasn’t 100% compliant, but it was definitely a big improvement.”

He said the Watrys had reduced the number of vehicles on the property from 70 or 80 to about 20.

But the Watrys’ neighbors then reported that junk cars were being brought back to the property, so the town petitioned the court and received an inspection warrant allowing them access to the Watrys’ land.

With sheriff’s deputies standing by, town officials inspected the property in November.

“They were down to 20 vehicles on the property but when we inspected the Monday before Thanksgiving they were back up to about 55,” Kimmes said.

At about the same time, Mr. Watry was in the process of asking the Village of Fredonia for a conditional use permit that would allow him to sell used vehicles from vacant land on Fredonia Avenue.

The Fredonia Plan Commission rejected his request on Nov. 7, with several members voting against it because they did not think it a good use for the highly visible land.

Watry appealed the decision to the village’s Board of Appeals, which on Dec. 15 affirmed the Plan Commission’s rejection of the permit request.

In the Town of Saukville, officials are now hoping for a resolution to a dispute that has dragged on for most of a year.

Kimmes, who noted that most complaints about the look or use of land in the town are resolved through discussions rather than town or court orders, said officials didn’t take the decision to sue the Watrys lightly.

“I and other town officials take going onto people’s property and telling them what they can do with their property very seriously,” he said. 

“We’re in negotiations and hope for a solution. Judge Malloy said, ‘Listen, I would prefer if the town and Mr. Watry don’t have to come back here (to court).

“That’s our goal.”









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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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