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September 22, 2019

9/5/2019 7:25:00 AM
Oneida County highway committee hears property concern
No action taken after closed session

Brian Jopek
Lakeland Times Reporter

The Oneida County Highway Committee took no action Aug. 29 after holding a closed session discussion regarding a vacant lot in the town of Stella.

The lot, with 100 feet of frontage on the south side of Snowden Lake, is owned by Vicki and Steve Gulan of Green Bay. The couple purchased the property in July 2006.

In a brief presentation before the committee adjourned to closed session, Steve Gulan explained that he and his wife had intended to eventually build their retirement home on the property.

Also in attendance was Oneida County corporation counsel Brian Desmond.

After the Gulans explained their concerns regarding the lot, committee chairman Robb Jensen said the committee would go into closed session to discuss the issue.

"But it's an agenda item," committee member Scott Holewinski said. "We can talk back and forth with them."

"You could," Desmond said.

"It's an agenda item," Holewinski said.

"You might want to listen to your lawyer," Desmond told him. "I'll tell you if it's a bad question or not."

"None of us even knows what it's about," Holewinski said.

Jensen said the intent was to give the Gulans an opportunity to explain their concern.

"So everyone can hear it, the press can hear it and then we'll go into closed session," he said.

"So, there's no discussion until after closed session?" Holewinski asked.

"Well, you could," Jensen responded. "I'm sure Brian's concern is ... as the attorney, we could say 'I don't know if you should have asked that question.'"

He said if committee members were looking for specific facts, Desmond would let them know whether they should ask a question.

"It's more for information before we go into closed session," Jensen said. "It'll help us decide what our position might be."

An easement

Oneida County highway commissioner Bruce Stefonek said the Gulans advised him of an erosion problem on the lot.

"That's the topic today," he said. "It's an easement."

Steve Gulan said there was an easement on the west side of the property along County Highway C that goes down the middle of the property.

"The erosion is, in some places, 6 to 8 feet deep in spots and 10 to 12 feet wide in spots," he said. "It gets a lot of spring runoff."

Gulan said the way things are going, the retirement home the couple wants to build there would end up in Snowden Lake.

"That easement is a drainage easement?" committee member Ted Cushing asked.

"Yes," Gulan said. "And it's not in the right spot."

Later he clarified the easement is in the right spot.

"The drainage is not going through the easement," Gulan said.

Using slides, he showed the committee some of the trees which have fallen and some of the erosion washout into the ditch.

"The easement is 25 feet further east than it should be," Gulan said, outlining some of the other drainage and easement issues further toward the lake.

"We approached Bruce a couple of months ago," he said. "How do we fix this? How do we figure out what we have to do ... what is even the process to go about fixing it? He recommended that we come and talk to you guys, present it and go from there."

Jensen thanked the Gulans for the presentation, noting their attention to detail was helpful.

The committee then went into closed session with Desmond.

No action taken

Once the committee returned to open session, Jensen announced no action was taken in closed session.

He then referenced a 2006 letter from a real estate company which had Coloma listed as its base in the letterhead.

"There is a record from Secluded Land Company from January of 2006 that indicates the ditch was there prior to the Gulan purchase," he said. "

"It was there to some point, to some extent," Gulan said. "It continues to grow and grow and grow and get worse."

"At this point, we can't make any comment," Jensen said. "Anything else on that one?"

"Are we done?" Vicki Gulan asked.

"Yeah," Jensen told her, as he attempted to move on to the next agenda item.

He was interrupted by Steve Gulan.

"What is our process from here?" he asked.

"We can't say what we wanna say," Holewinski said.

Desmond had left the room to get copies of the Secluded Land Company letter, which was dated Jan. 31, 2006 and received by the Oneida County planning and zoning department on Feb. 3, 2006.

When he returned, Holewinski told Desmond the Gulans had a question for him.

"So, what is the process from this point?" Steve Gulan repeated for Desmond.

"I'm legal counsel for Oneida County and I can't answer that question for you," Desmond told him. "Sorry."

"So, you're saying ... I mean, you're done with this?" Vicki Gulan asked Desmond.

"At this point, yes," Desmond responded.

"As far as the committee's concerned, it's done and over?" Steve Gulan asked.

"Yep," Desmond said and he left the meeting, followed soon after by the Gulans.

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