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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — Two people authorized by the Elk Mound Village Board will speak with Jim Rooney, the Settlers Ridge Developer, about Phase 2 of the development.
Elk Mound Village President Terry Stamm and Elk Mound Director of Public Works Mark Levra said at the September 5 village board meeting they would be willing to have a conference call with Rooney, who would like to start Phase 2 of the Settlers Ridge development.
Rooney has called to talk about putting in private wells to supply water for Phase 2, Levra said.
Levra said he told Rooney that the village’s ordinances require residential properties to be hooked up to the village’s water system but that the village board could approve a private well system if that is what the village board decided would be in the best interests of the community.
When the development is completed, Settlers Ridge is expected to have 22 eight-unit apartment buildings and 14 twelve-unit apartment buildings.
In 2020, Elk Mound’s population was 897, and when the Settlers Ridge development is finished, the village’s population is expected to be 2,337.
With no available cash and not enough borrowing capacity, earlier this year, the Elk Mound Village Board approved a resolution to start an application for the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program grant.
The recommendation resulting from a water system study authorized by the Elk Mound Village Board and conducted by CBS Squared was a $2.6 million project that would include a new reservoir for Elk Mound and new loops in the water system to increase water pressure and maximize fire fighting capabilities for the school district’s buildings and the Settlers Ridge development as well as for other residents in the village.
Earlier this year, the state Department of Natural Resources turned down the Village of Elk Mound for any forgiveness on a loan from the Safe Drinking Water Fund.
At the village board’s June 5 meeting, Levra said Elk Mound did not qualify for the loan forgiveness because according to the DNR, the project for which the village was seeking loan forgiveness is to benefit new development and not for resiliency in the system to benefit existing village residents.
At the village board’s May 1 meeting, Bernard Lenz of CBS Squared said Well No. 1 produces 175 gallons per minute of water and Well No. 2 produces 380 gpm, for a combined gpm of 555.
The ISO fire flow needed is 2,500 gallons of water per minute for two hours and 3,500 gpm for three hours, he said.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s 2023 state apportionment report, Elk Mound has an equalized value of $66.1 million.
State law allows municipalities to borrow up to 5 percent of the equalized value, which would give Elk Mound a borrowing capacity of $3.3 million.
One village board member asked about a rough cost estimate for one well.
Rooney is talking about smaller residential wells for the apartment buildings, Levra said.
If Phase 2 of Settlers Ridge is going to be built, infrastructure will have to built, including a road and sewer and water mains, he said
The private wells for the apartment buildings would be temporary, and when the village is able to supply water through the water mains, then Settlers Ridge would have to hook up to the village’s water system according to the village’s ordinances, Levra said.
For Phase 1, Elk Mound paid Rooney money up front, he noted.
At a May of 2022 village board meeting, Rooney said Elk Mound had agreed to pay $800,000 in incentives plus $250,000 over the next 10 years for Phase 1.
At the time, Elk Mound had a remaining borrowing capacity of $900,000, and Rooney had wondered if the village would be able to finance more incentives for Phase 2.
Elk Mound “will not be worse off if he stops now,” Levra said at the September 5 meeting in reference to continuing the Settlers Ridge development with Phase 2.
If the developer wants to install private wells, then the developer also should pay for putting in the sewer and water mains and building the road, Levra said.
If the village board negotiates another developer’s agreement, perhaps the board would want to consider setting a deadline of five years to complete the work, he said.
Could the work be put off for two years to allow the village to find some grants? asked one village board member.
The village can say up front that Rooney must pay for the sewer and water mains and building the road, and if Rooney still wants to proceed with Phase 2, he can come to a village board meeting to talk about the project, Stamm said, noting that the developer’s agreement would have to be reviewed.
If Rooney seems agreeable, CBS Squared should be asked about their opinion on private wells and sewer and water mains and roads, Levra said.
The developer should not expect any further financial help from Elk Mound, Stamm said.
The Elk Mound Police Department does not have the staff for another increase in population, noted Elk Mound Police Chief Chad Weinberger.
If private wells are installed, then the developer would need to follow the DNR requirements for well testing, Levra said.
There are some private wells in Elk Mound, but those are beyond the high school where the village has not yet installed sewer and water, he said.
Stamm suggested a conference call involving Stamm, Levra and Rooney.
After that, if Rooney still wants to present plans to the village board, he is welcome to talk about the plans, he said.
The Elk Mound Village Board unanimously approved a motion authorizing Stamm and Levra to contact Rooney about Phase 2 and to issue an invitation to the developer to visit the Elk Mound Village Board to speak about his plans if the developer wants to continue with Phase 2.
Voting in favor of the motion, in addition to Stamm, were village trustees Cynthia Abraham, Patricia Hahn, Joyce Price, Tim Benjamin, Patrick Lien and Bob Bachman.
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
• Heard from a resident who said they had left for the weekend, and upon their return, had learned the water had not been turned off for an outside hose and that the hose had a leak. The water bill was $519, when it was normally $50 to $70. The resident asked if the sewer charges could be taken off the bill since the water had not gone down the sewer but had soaked into their yard. Stamm directed the resident to “work it out” with village staff.
• Learned from Karin Wolf, village clerk-treasurer, that the village’s new website would be ready in a few weeks.
• Learned from Wolf that the Elk Mound library would be open Wednesday mornings beginning at 9 a.m.
• Learned from Wolf that the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission had contacted her about the village updating the Safe Routes to School Plan, which had been completed in 2008. The cost would be an 80/20 split, with the village paying 20 percent of the cost. The WCWRPC also planned to contact the Elk Mound school district about the Safe Routes plan, she said. Stamm directed Wolf to put the item on the agenda for a future meeting.
• Learned that a village resident is disputing the village mowing his lawn while he was in the hospital having surgery. Levra said he had mowed the lawn himself. Stamm noted that the resident had been notified his lawn was longer than the village’s ordinances allow.
• Learned from Levra that the Elk Mound Lions Club is moving forward with “Welcome to Ek Mound” signs on county Highway H.
• Learned from Levra that the Elk Mound Lions Club will be able to replace all of the village’s Christmas decorations for $2,500, although with the shipping, the cost might exceed that amount by $130. Levra said he told Lions Club members he would find the $130 in the public works budget if necessary and noted that “it is nice to work with the Lions” on projects.
• Approved a bartender operator’s license for Alyssa Marie Smith, who had intended to work at the Elk Mound Travel Stop. The village had learned that the Travel Stop was closing for good at 10 p.m. the night of the village board meeting. Police Chief Weinberger noted that in the past, people who received bartender operator’s licenses worked for both the Travel Stop and The Pourhouse. Hahn, who was the village clerk-treasurer for more than 40 years, pointed out that bartender operator’s licenses are issued to the person, which means the person can work at any establishment with a liquor license.
Following a closed session, the Elk Mound Village Board approved adding two paid holidays for village employees, Presidents Day and Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and also approved a 4 percent pay increase across the board for employees.