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Neighbor still not happy with Ziebell property

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  — Although the Colfax Village Board and the Colfax Police Department have devoted a fair amount time to the issue, at least one neighbor of the Eugene Ziebell property still is not satisfied.

Sally Johnson, a resident of High Street, spoke to the Colfax Village Board during the public appearances portion of the April 27 meeting.

Following the September 22, 2014, Colfax Village Board meeting, Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson sent a letter to Ziebell informing him that he was in violation of the village’s ordinance and that he had 30 days “to remove the unhealthy, hazardous, unsightly materials from the exterior of your property. This includes all refuse/rubbish/waste, inoperable and dilapidated equipment and/or machines, vehicles, tarps, woodpiles, as well as any other items on the exterior of the property considered to be in violation of this ordinance.”

The letter went on to say, “If this notice is not adhered to, and the above mentioned property is not abated by October 22, 2014, you could be subject to daily fines until the property is taken care of.”

At the second village board meeting in November, Police Chief Anderson said he had sent off the paperwork and documentation to the village’s attorney for review.

At that point, if the remainder of the yard had not been cleaned up, it would have required a court order from a circuit court judge for the village to proceed.

Ziebell attended the December village board meeting to report on the progress he had made toward cleaning up his property and to say that he had hired someone to assist him with cleaning up the yard.

The village’s attorney has reportedly said that as long as Ziebell is making progress, a judge would be unlikely to order any action.

Next step

At the April 27 village board meeting, Johnson said she was “trying to figure out what’s the next step.”

“What is the time frame?” she asked.

Johnson admitted that the Ziebell property is much cleaner than it was but said it is still not acceptable because of piles of old wood and other items.

Police Chief Anderson has been at the Ziebell property several times, said Scott Gunnufson, village president.

Colfax has four or five other properties that need to be cleaned up as well, he said.

Johnson said that rats and other creatures lived in the piles of old wood and that there was a hole in the corner of Ziebell house where the animals were entering.

“Will he get it done in his lifetime? What are WE supposed to do?” Johnson said, wondering why the village board had given Ziebell extra time and why Ziebell could not get the property cleaned up better.

Mark Halpin, village trustee, asked for the police chief’s opinion on progress.

Police Chief Anderson said Ziebell’s property was much better now than before the cleanup started.

Dave Wolff, who is another neighbor of the Ziebell property and who was elected to the village board April 7, noted that a wood pile on the property has been there for 15 years.

Wolff wondered if the village board had contacted the other properties in town about cleaning up.

Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, said the village planned to publish notices in the Colfax Messenger about cleanup and that she was working on a notice to send to property owners about ordinance violations.

Tall weeds

Johnson said the woodpile had tall weeds growing around it, that the wood was rotten and that the wood was a home for insects as well as rodents.

Village Trustee Carey Davis noted the Ziebell property “has come a long way from the beginning” and that he had a feeling anything pertaining to the Ziebell property “would never be done fast enough or well enough.”

If piles of wood are objectionable, “in that case, Woods Run would be in trouble,” said Police Chief Anderson.

The police chief said he had talked to Ziebell’s helper and that the man said he planned to do more spring cleaning and more raking.

Gunnufson said that he, Niggemann and the police chief would continue to monitor the progress at the Ziebell property.

“Don’t stop halfway through the job,” Wolff said.

Tree

Rolland Mittelstadt, also a neighbor of the Ziebell property, addressed the village board about the tree that was supposed to be cut down on Ziebell’s property.

“I’ve been fighting that tree for four years,” he said.

Several years ago, the Colfax Village Board ordered that the tree be cut down because it was leaning toward Mittelstadt’s garage.

The tree was not cut down but was cut way back, Mittelstadt said, adding that he is still afraid it could fall on his garage.

The tree is rotten on the bottom, Mittelstadt said.

Jeremy Klukas, who is the village forester, suggested that he and the police chief take a look at the tree.

Police Chief Anderson suggested waiting until the tree has had time to green up.

Once the leaves are out, it will be easier to tell how much of the tree is still alive, he said.