Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Mercer board approves sale of plow truck


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MERCER, Wis. — Finding a buyer for an old plow truck will bring the town of Mercer more funds than it would have received as trade-in value for a new truck.

The town of Mercer Board of Supervisors 5-0 approved the $55,000 sale of a plow truck to Elcho, Wisconsin at its Thursday meeting. The sale is $7,000 more than the $48,000 the town expected to receive as trade-in value toward a new truck that the board approved a $161,787 loan to purchase in April for the town maintenance department.

The sale will allow the town to pay the $48,000 as a payment rather than as a trade-in with the old truck, said John Sendra, town board chair. The additional $7,000 goes back into the city’s funds, he said.

The board discussed the Fourth of July events and noted the town will still hold the parade and fireworks events. The parade route was extended to allow for social distancing to assist with COVID-19 prevention.

Spectators are invited to wear masks and bring sanitizer, Sendra said. People who identify themselves as at-risk should consider not attending or if they feel safe they should wear a mask, he said.

The board approved a request from the town maintenance department to place new signs that rename Harry Meinel Road as Spring Lake Road. The owners of the privately owned road changed the name and because there are six residences on the road, the town places signage.

The board 5-0 approved revisions to the conditional use permit application forms referring to tourist rooming houses. The changes were to assist applicants who were often confused by the previous form, said Kathy Tutt, chair of the planning commission.

Conditional use permits relate to a number of structures and the form now asks for lot dimensions and a copy of the plat. It reads as a step-by-step guide to aid in understanding the process, and includes information on fees and related forms such as the zoning application that will be required at some point.

Applicants are directed in writing to notify neighboring property owners on all sides of the tourist rental home application, even when it is a vacant lot, she said. Not all of the directives are requirements for approval but without them the planning commission could recommend approval or not based on a complete application, she said.

Neighbors may object to an application but that does not require the board to automatically deny, said Fritz Schellgell, town attorney. The board must consider the application and deny it based on legitimate objections such as violating a conditional use permit by using it for commercial use.

Answering a question from the community, Schellgell said that violations of subdivision covenants are enforceable as a private matter among member owners. The town has no standing in such matters, he said.

Applicants often don’t realize that even once the planning commission grants a recommendation and the town board approves the application that there is still more work in the process, Tutt said.

The board then approved a conditional use permit application with the stipulation that it not be used for habitation or commercial use. The planning commission recommended the request, noting the application was complete to build a 40-foot by 30-foot garage at 761W Lori Ann Lane.

The board also approved a 10-foot by 20-foot off-premise sign at the former Mercer Lumber Yard at 5119 US 51. The permit was required as a new business and has approval from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

In his report, Sendra said that Jerry Huffmaster, recycle and transfer station manager, now has a large item dumpster available. Residents should call ahead to learn more about the pay per item bin.

The city’s residential garbage pickup will transition to the sticker program in September. Residents purchase their own bags as opposed to a prior program with city bags, and purchase stickers based on bag size.

“It’s a win-win,” Sendra said, noting the city and the residents save money in the new program in addition to addressing the complaints about the city bags. 

The board emerged from an executive session without taking action on any item. Sendra said the matter related to a town employee manual where a couple of changes were recently made. One change related to the number of days between an injury or illness when an employee may return to work with a doctor’s release, he said.

“We decided on three days,” Sendra said.

The other change was to insert a last page stating the employee has read and understands the employee manual. They must sign and date the page.

In other business, the board approved:

—Seeking propane bids for tanks the town now owns.

—21 bartender’s licenses.

—Five liquor licenses conditionally upon a completed application and updating state business entity status.