Dispute erupts over access to lake propertySome say it’s a lakeshore property give-away — property that belongs to the people being given over to private interests. Others say it is a matter legally accessing property they own without requiring the village to spend money to construct a road on the undeveloped Waterbury Avenue.
By: Shelley Nelson, The Daily Telegram
By SHELLEY NELSON
Daily Telegram News Editor
Some say it’s a lakeshore property give-away — property that belongs to the people being given over to private interests.
Others say it is a matter legally accessing property they own without requiring the village to spend money to construct a road on the undeveloped Waterbury Avenue.
Either way, the public gets a chance to weigh in tonight as the Solon Springs Village Board considers vacating Waterbury Avenue in Solon Springs.
A public hearing has been set for 6 p.m. at the Solon Springs Community Center.
The board will then decide if 50-foot wide swath of land running from St. Croix Avenue to the lake should be divided between the Goettl and Doyle families or if it should remain in the public trust.
The Goettls are seeking to vacate the undeveloped, tree and brush-covered avenue leading to the lake to assure legal access to their lakefront homes.
“Basically, we had permission to cross property where the little tote road was,” said Jim Goettl, who originally sought to vacate the avenue last year so he could build a new home on the property he’s owned since 2006. When efforts to get a written easement, assuring access to his property failed, he said it was apparent that he would have to create his own drive, one the Doyle family uses to access their property.
“All I want to do is build a house, and I’ve never run into more weird stuff in my life than I have here,” Goettl said.
However, some members of the village board are concerned about preserving the public’s interest in the land that allows access to the lake.
“If this went through, each one would get 25-feet … to the Doyles and 25-feet would go to Goettls and the whole thing would be gone,” said Board President James “Pat” Cosgrove. “What bothers me is this belongs to the people … If we gave this away, are we going to give others away? I don’t want to give any of them away.”
Guy Little, a lifelong resident of the area, said there are a number of undeveloped avenues leading to the lake.
“I live on the lake and lake-front footage is like $800 a foot,” Little said. “It just is a valuable piece of property.” He said it doesn’t make sense just to give the property away.
However, the village cannot sell the property either because of the easement that was established at an undetermined date.
“They’re giving away extremely valuable property — they’re not getting anything in return,” Little said.
Goettl disagrees, stating the value of the home he is planning to build will exceed the 108-year-old cabin it would replace, which would generate more tax revenue for the village. The additional property would also become taxable.
Right now, he’s not sure what kind of house, if any, he will be able to build after he had to build a private driveway across a portion of his property to legally access his own property and provide an easement for his neighbors, the Doyles.
All costs associated with titling and public notification processes would be born by those seeking to vacate the easement.
“They are accesses to the lake,” said Board Member Jim Ohm, who opposes vacating the public land. “Most of them are undeveloped for future use … why would we give away land that we may not use in our lifetime, but maybe our children or grandchildren would use.”
While there are boat landings in the area, he said this provides a natural access to the lake, away from vehicles and boats.
But Goettl’s neighbor, who has long granted permission for the Goettls and Doyles to cross their property to access theirs, said the issue is basic — it’s the public’s land and “the people should have a right to vote on it,” said Melissa Johnson.
Contact Shelley Nelson at (715) 395-5022 or email@example.com.