City of McLouth and well owner avoid confrontation
by Dennis Sharkey
An owner of a water well that the city of McLouth feeds off of was threatening to evict the city.
Barbara Peterson owns a 40-acre parcel of land north of McLouth that has a water well that is used to supply part of the city’s water.
City Administrator Carl Chalfant said the city has about six wells and part of the city’s water is purchased from Rural Water No. 12.
According to Assistant City Attorney Trevin Wray the city sent Peterson a letter with an addendum to the lease the city has with Peterson to operate the well on her land. Peterson responded by saying that she wanted the city to get off her land.
“There is no compensation that can be worth the devaluation the well gives to your property,” Wray read from a correspondence.
“That was my first choice and that is my first choice,” Peterson said after Wray read the letter.
Wray responded to Peterson’s request with a letter offering to purchase 1 1/2 acres of land at market value. If Peterson wanted to pursue an eviction Wray indicated that the city would pursue a condemnation of the property.
Peterson contended that the land is not for sale and that she has no intentions of selling. She said that the land could be developed in the future or her children could decide to sell the land. She said the water well is devaluing the property. Furthermore she argued that selling 1 1/2 acres of land would bring the property below 40 acres and below county zoning regulations for a dwelling.
“It does devalue my property with all of these issues I’m dealing with,” Peterson said. “If I choose to sell it (the buyer) is going to be upset with (the lease).”
Peterson had other issues with the lease. The biggest being the amount of money that she is paid each year by the city. The lease that was signed in 1989 by Peterson’s mother calls for the city to pay $200 a year.
“If it’s this great of a well I feel $200 a year is not enough,” she said.
She said her salary was six times less 22 years ago.
City Councilman Harlan Woodring said any more money paid out will be passed on to the citizens of McLouth. He said if they ask where the increase is coming from he will point to her.
Peterson said she came to the meeting to negotiate with the council. Mayor Keith Meador said the city will work with her but she had to withdraw the demand to vacate.
She agreed but some on the council were still uneasy about the situation. Meador said that he found it odd that it took so long for the two parties to meet. Woodring said he wanted assurances in writing.
“This subject has come up every meeting since April,” Woodring said. “We’re more than willing to work with you but your attitude toward this council has not been helpful.”
Wray informed Peterson that he will send her a letter outlining everything that had been discussed and that the council would like a written response to the issues she would like to address in the lease and a proposal for compensation. Peterson said she would like to be compensated on the amount of water produced rather than a flat fee.
Council members said they would like to resolve the issue by the first meeting in December.
In other actions:
• Pam Moore served as temporary City Clerk in the absence of Kim Perry. Perry was away at training.
• The council again tabled an item about annexation of part of K-16 Highway that runs west of town. When the city cemetery and some other property were annexed the highway was not.
• The council went into closed session for trade secrets to discuss the issue of a backup system for the city’s computer system.
• The city is looking at making some changes to the ordinance that regulates all terrain vehciles(ATV). Some changes include requiring a driver’s license and equipment.
Penalties for violation will be added. Permits will also be issued and will require an inspection and insurance.
Police Chief Marcus Koch said the regulation needs to be clearly defined so it can be enforceable.
Short URL: http://www.jeffcountynews.com/?p=10858