Boyceville postpones conditional use for group home

By LeAnn R. Ralph

BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville Village Board postponed making a decision on a conditional use permit Monday night requested by Amy Fern for an adult family home at 454 Main Street.

The village board will take up the matter again at a special meeting September 12.

During a public hearing on the conditional use at Monday’s meeting, Fern said she wanted to put the group home in a structure already existing at 454 Main.

Fern said the reason she wanted to start an adult family home was so that she could take care of her grandmother and perhaps one or two other older adults.

The group home in Boyceville would be a “start,” Fern said, adding that she eventually wanted to move the home to a small farm out in the country.

Pat Seehaver, who lives next door, objected to the adult family home, saying that she wants to sell her property next spring and that the group home would decrease her property value.

Seehaver also said the group home would cause emotional distress to her family because her 33-year-old son had died from exposure last April after being allowed to walk to a medical appointment in 28-degree weather from the group home where he lived.

Once the conditional use is granted, the group home will not be restricted to only elderly residents and anyone who qualifies will be able to live in the adult family home, Seehaver said, adding that she would be worried about her grandchildren playing in the yard.

Herb Dow, village trustee, noted that another group home in Boyceville has been well accepted and that there have been no complaints so far.

“I guarantee there will be problems,” Seehaver said, noting that if the home at 454 Main Street does not have a fence and a resident walks onto her property, she will call the police and will expect an arrest to be made.

Jeremy Pickerign, who accompanied Fern at the public hearing, said they planned to move to the country as soon as financially feasible.

Seehaver said they should wait to start the group home until they could move to the country.

Gilbert Krueger, village president, wondered if state regulations required a fence.

Fern and Pickerign said state regulations did not require a fence although a fence could be an insurance issue.

Seehaver said her son was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, that he suffered from delusions and hallucinations and reiterated that a group home next door would cause emotional distress to her family.

Fern and Pickerign wondered if the village board could put conditions on the conditional use permit, such as requiring a fence.

Seehaver said she wanted a fence that was at least six feet high.

Dow noted that six other property owners had received notification about the public hearing but that no one else had voiced concerns related to an adult family home.

Brian Wolff, village board member, said he lived west of the residence in question and that he had no problem with an adult family home.

Wolff noted his son had died in a car accident but that he still drives a car and that Seehaver was making a generalization about all group homes.

“You are making assumptions,” Wolff said, and then made a motion to grant the conditional use permit.

Seehaver said she would not be able to sell her property with a group home next door, and that next spring, she would bulldoze down the house instead of selling it and that the village would then not be able to collect taxes on the property.

With that, Seehaver walked out of the meeting.

Boyceville Village Board members agreed that they wanted advice from their attorney about what stipulations they could require for the conditional use permit, if any, and whether they could grant the conditional use if a neighbor voiced a formal objection.

The Boyceville Village Board postponed taking action on the conditional use until a special meeting Thursday night, September 12, at 5:30 p.m. and continued the public hearing until the special meeting.

Earlier at the Monday night meeting, the village board had scheduled the special meeting to discuss health insurance and other employee benefits.

Other business

In other business, the Boyceville Village Board:

• Learned that the Boyceville Police Department had handled 57 incidents in August and that the Boyceville Cucumber Festival had been fairly quiet. Only one arrest was made during Pickle Fest, said Dan Wellumson, Boyceville police chief. The person arrested was an intoxicated 19-year-old who had punched another person. The 19-year-old was charged with battery, underage drinking and disorderly conduct, he said.

• Learned that the “radar run” with classic cars at the Boyceville airport during the Cucumber Festival had been very well received. A total of 34 cars participated, Wellumson said. “It was a really great addition to Pickle Fest … hopefully next year will be bigger and better,” he said.

• Approved a bartender operator’s license for Carly Koon.

• Denied a request from Ohly Americas to not require a $25,000 minimum monthly sewer charge. The previous minimum was $15,000. The minimum monthly charge is intended to help the village pay for wastewater treatment upgrades installed specifically for Ohly. The company discharges an average of 87,000 gallons per day.

• Approved changing the pay period for village employees from twice a month to once every two weeks and to require mandatory direct deposit. The new policy requires time cards to be given to the village clerk-treasurer by noon on Monday following the end of the pay period. If Monday is a legal holiday, the time cards will be due by noon on Tuesday.