Residents Ask Town Board to Reconsider Retention Pond Plans

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: taxonomy_term in similarterms_taxonomy_node_get_terms() (line 518 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in similarterms_list() (line 221 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in similarterms_list() (line 222 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
MTT News's picture
Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–The Town of Middleton Board went into closed session Monday night to confer with their attorney, Eileen Brownlee, concerning “current or likely litigation” regarding a storm water retention pond in the Stonebrook Estates subdivision.

When the board reconvened, then approved the project as well as a directive to the town engineer, Rod Zubella, who is also the president of the engineering firm, Vierbicher, that will be awarded the job.

“We believe the engineering firm is pushing this for their own profit,” Stonebrook Estates resident, Lisa Pardon, told the Times-Tribune, referring to herself and neighbors in the subdivision. 

When the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) covenant was drawn up in 1995, it left the matter of storm water ambiguous in regard to the town and resident rights. At that time storm culverts and ditches were favored means of water control. 

Nine residents of the neighborhood showed up to speak out against the pond because they claim when they tried to present a compromise to the town, they received no response and felt they had been left in the dark over the project. 

“If we came to an agreement, it would remove this ambiguity in the future,” Pardon added. 

Shannon Smithberger told the board, “I want to reiterate the fact that this is in our backyard. Please take time to hear our concerns. I am asking you once again to slow this thing down.”

Nancy Anderson added, “I would like to have the board consider a way that does not cause liability for the town, residents and HOA.”

Residents are concerned that the out lot owned by the HOA will be liable for injury and maintenance as it was not outlined in previous plans for the retention pond. Several residents told the board that people use the facility for recreation and there are often dogs and kids playing on the lot.

Ed Pardon, who served on an HOA Ad Hoc committee to review the covenant restrictions and town planning said that the HOA must vote on the pond as it is a shared space. A super majority of residents must agree to the use of the land. “We need 49 votes, and I think we can get them. Most of the residents are not necessarily opposed to the pond,” he said in a phone interview. He added that the problem for the HOA has been the town leaving residents in dark concerning plans. 

“I’m really not in favor of this at all,” Al Johnston told the board on June 3. “But if we can come up with an agreement, I would sign off on it and be one of the 49.”

In regard to liability, Zubella said all other retention ponds constructed within the town place liability and maintenance on the town. “When the agreement is prepared, you will not have liability,” he said.

The town will receive a 75 percent matching grant from Dane County for the project as part of a clean water initiative to remove phosphorous from the water with the construction of the retention pond.

The board also heard a request from builders at the new Tumbledown Farms Subdivision, that is being constructed on the old Tumbledown Trails Golf Course, to allowing building on lot 23 at the request of the homeowners. 

They explained that the family had sold their house and were living in temporary housing until their home is complete. Roads would be constructed by the time the house was complete. The men asked the town to draft deed restriction similar to one on lot 17, which the city approved for early construction. 

Town Administrator Greg DiMicelli said that it would “probably be okay” but is setting a precedent for future projects. 

Zubella said that the problem with building before roads are complete is that sometimes plans will make regrading land necessary, which could lead to problems with homeowners who might have their property dug up. No utilities have been put in place, and Zubella said that could also cause concerns down the road.

The board approved the change, with a deed restriction to be drawn up for lot 23.

Andrew Erlandson, attorney for Elizabeth Pope, whose family sold  Pope Farm Conservancy to the town for $1 million, was on hand to discuss a letter he sent to the board concerning the admission fee for entrance into the park during Sunflower Days. In a covenant and restrictions agreement between the town and the family, the park is supposed to be kept open and free to the public.

Erlandson said charging an admission fee of $4 is not in line with the agreement.

Brownlee argued that since the park is closed at night, and occasionally other times, it is not really free and open to the public. She said that there were a number of documents drafted concerning the use of the land, including one with the DNR, who has signed off on the Sunflower Days event. She added that parks can charge a “reasonable usage fee.”

Elizabeth Pope is not opposed to the town charging a fee for shuttle buses to recoup money spent, Erlandson said. 

He added that the 5k race is also of concern to the Pope family and said it was a “prohibited community purpose.” 

Board member Brent Renteria pointed out that the town spends a lot of tax money to maintain the park. He said money made at Sunflower Days could help take the burden off taxpayers. “I think the Pope family needs to help the town recoup some of that money,” he said. 

Erlandson countered, “At some point, it moves from a municipality to a for profit event. According to the covenant and restrictions, and money made must be shared with the conservancy through donation. 

Tom Stemrich, board member, said that the real concern during the last Sunflower Days in 2017 was safety.

Board chair Cynthia Richson said that when the Friends of Pope Farm Conservancy ran the event, they sold sunflowers for profit. 

The town will pay for the event with tourism dollars. After discussion with Erlandson, the board went on to approve a written agreement for Race Day Events to manage the event and discussed the payment schedule to the company. They also approved acquiring event liability and cancellation insurance for Sunflower Days.

The board also approved:

• A rezoning agreement with the county that would allow a one-time rezoning for town properties free of charge.

• A 50/50 agreement with Dane County for the repaving of Mineral Point Rd., beginning July 1. 

Other discussion items with no action taken included:

• Setting guidelines for ADA compliance in parks. The board agreed to get input from the parks communion before making a decision.

• The use of drones in the town was discussed, and Brownlee said the law, aside from FFA restrictions near airports, only restricts where the drones land and take off.

Correction to print edition, which mistakenly stated the land was donated by the Pope family.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet