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July 21, 2019

Jamie Taylor/river news

Richard Voss, owner of the Grey Wolf Nature Store at 48 South Stevens Street points, at a sign erected by the city on the site of the former Kabel Auto building saying the project was completed in the Fall of 2018. Voss is trying to get either a parking spot in front of his store, which has been deemed by city officials to be a traffic hazard, or parking in the vacant, city-owned Lindy/Kabel lots next to his store. Who besides Voss would benefit from such a parking lot, the cost and the need for additional parking will be discussed again Monday night at the City Council meeting.
Jamie Taylor/river news

Richard Voss, owner of the Grey Wolf Nature Store at 48 South Stevens Street points, at a sign erected by the city on the site of the former Kabel Auto building saying the project was completed in the Fall of 2018. Voss is trying to get either a parking spot in front of his store, which has been deemed by city officials to be a traffic hazard, or parking in the vacant, city-owned Lindy/Kabel lots next to his store. Who besides Voss would benefit from such a parking lot, the cost and the need for additional parking will be discussed again Monday night at the City Council meeting.
7/6/2019 7:30:00 AM
Mayor vetoes council vote on Lindey/Kabel resolution
Jamie Taylor and Heather Schaefer
Of the River News

The Rhinelander Common Council is expected to revisit the question of the potential future of the Lindey/Kabel property, as well as a request from local attorney Richard Voss for parking space, following Mayor Chris Frederickson's decision to veto an action that took place at the June 24 council meeting.

The veto, described as a "new milestone" for Frederickson's administration, was announced on the Rhinelander City Hall Facebook page July 1.

In the Facebook post, the mayor listed the following objections to the council's June 24 action:

• Members of the Common Council's consideration of whether Mr. Voss should be paying for a parking space was not a subject matter of the proposed resolution, which contemplated how to provide Mr. Voss with a parking space for his building, since the City, by its public action and prior approval removed his building's previous access to adjacent on-street parking on South Stevens Street thus creating an unnecessary hardship for a City property owner. These conversations were not germaine (sic) to the primary question of how to address Mr. Voss' concern for not having parking at his business.

• Members of the Common Council were unnecessarily stressed over the recommendation to turn an empty lot into a public parking space. This space could have been converted with minimal effort and expense to the City for a short-term solution which would address Mr. Voss' concern.

• City records and past meeting minutes suggest that the Kabel/Lindey property was planned to be converted into a future space for public parking. City records and past meeting minutes suggest that the recommendation to deal with the site's environmental contamination is to "cap" the site, which could be accomplished in the near future by the creation of a parking lot. Again, the question of whether these parking spaces are leased or not is not of immediate concern to the public interest. The Common Council needs to provide direction to city staff regarding its expectations for what is to become of the property and how the city will deal with the continued environmental contamination of the site.

• Despite suggestions to the contrary, no City official has presented either the City Administration or me with the name of anyone interested in purchasing the vacant lot. In the absence of identifying an interested buyer who is interested in enjoining themselves to the environmental liability of the contaminated site in perpetuity, the Common Council should proceed with its original plans or develop new policy and communicate their preference to city staff.

Shortly after the veto was announced, alderpersons began questioning whether the mayor might have a conflict of interest related to the property in question. At the heart of their concern is the close proximity of a new wine bar owned by the Frederickson family at 51 S. Brown Street and the Lindey/Kabel property at 34 S. Stevens Street (across the street from McDonald's). The Lindey-Kabel property is located behind the wine bar.

(In an interview Wednesday, Frederickson declined to answer a number of questions related to the wine bar, including the specifics of the ownership structure, however the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions lists his spouse, Kim Frederickson, as the registered agent of the limited liability company that operates the business).

When asked if the wine bar might benefit if the Kabel/Lindey property is converted into a parking lot, the mayor's answer was "maybe."

"There's no direct entry, whether there's more parking... not given thought to that idea whatsoever."

Throughout the interview, Frederickson stressed that he did not veto the council's action due to any potential impact on the wine bar. He insisted that the wine bar was not a consideration and that he was merely trying to resolve a problem Voss is having at his property, 48 S. Stevens Street, the Grey Wolf Nature Store.

"The issue is whether or not Richard Voss gets parking space for his business," he said. "So, does that (a parking lot) solve that? Yes, it does."

When asked if he would recuse himself from any future vote on the Lindey/Kabel property, given its proximity to the wine bar, Frederickson did not commit himself to a course of action.

"Once again, I don't see any personal interest in it," he said. "It was a constituent that asked me for something, so I gave him a solution."

In a written response to a question from the River News, alderman Lee Emmer articulated some of the questions and concerns that have arisen since the mayor's veto was announced.

"As I read Resolution #2019-14 (the resolution the council voted down June 24) as presented, approving the ordinance would have actually denied the short term parking at Grey Wolf," Emmer wrote. "Approving the ordinance would have approved moving forward with design and construction of the parking lot on the Lindey and Kabel sites. Denying the ordinance actually denied moving forward with design and construction of the parking lot. Denying had no effect on the current status of short term parking for Grey Wolf since there currently is no short term parking (or perhaps the denial could be interpreted as approval of the short term parking). At the meeting, the Mayor interpreted the vote as having no effect on the current status of Grey Wolf parking. In my opinion, approval of the resolution as presented would approve design and construction of a parking lot on the Lindey and Kabel sites. The Council has no idea what this would cost or what the thoughts on design are. The only real connection between this resolution and the Grey Wolf issue is that this new parking lot would be a place where Grey Wolf customers as well as visitors to other businesses could park. In other words, the Grey Wolf parking issue is incidental to the parking lot construction. I feel the resolution should more appropriately have been a resolution to approve design and construction of the parking lot and should have had the appropriate preliminary design and cost estimate attached. If the parking lot is to be approved, more information should be presented including a preliminary design and a cost estimate."

In what she referred to as press release issued to local media, alderperson Dawn Rog called on the acting city attorneys, the von Briesen law firm, to provide an opinion on the mayor's veto.

"My understanding of the rules of governance are the mayor does not have the authority to veto an inaction (or no vote) by council," Rog wrote. "He/She only has veto power over an affirmative action. He/she can voice his disapproval of council action, but he can't 'pass' the resolution via backdoor methods by vetoing the outcome he/she does not like. The City needs a written legal opinion from Von Briesen on this 'veto of an inaction' issue before the next council meeting."

Rog ended her press release by quoting the last paragraph from a League of Wisconsin Municipalities frequently asked questions (FAQ) section that addresses such vetoes.

"There is no Wisconsin legal authority addressing this issue. However, the question sometimes arises whether the mayor's veto of a negative action results in the affirmative. Although no Wisconsin law addresses this issue either, the League believes it is clear that the mayor's veto cannot cause the affirmative. For example, the mayor's veto of the council's denial of the liquor license does not cause the license to be granted. Similarly, it does not cause the ordinance that was defeated to be enacted," the FAQ states.

According to the city website, the next common council meeting is scheduled for July 8.





Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2019
Article comment by: Dan Butkus

A two-fer! And how many times do we have to go endure these? 1) City Council and the Mayor need to buy Robert's Rules of Order and READ it! All this silliness can be avoided if they just follow the rules of governance, debate, and resolutions. This continued ignorance of the rules is tiresome. 2) More parking? Really? There is parking not half a block away. The old McDonald's site at the corner of Steven's and Davenport, which is now parking, Pelham St. lot, and of course, Davenport St. Turn the old building sites into some green space for heaven's sake. Beautify the area. More asphalt for parking when there's plenty of parking? Why?



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