The voters of Baileys Harbor have spoken – or, at least 35 of them have spoken – and the town will not be purchasing a property next to school lane that would improve the safety of the street.
The town called a special meeting for May 24 to discuss and vote on whether the town should pay $205,000 for a residential property that recently went up for sale across the street from the town hall and next to the town’s problematic 12-foot wide School Lane, which leads to parking for fishing boat trailers and will be the entrance for parking and deliveries to Door County Brewing when it opens.
Town Chair Don Sitte explained that the idea for purchasing the property at 2397 County F was brought up by Realtor Bill Becker at the town’s annual meeting in April. The house had recently been put up for sale, and since it is next to School Lane, he thought the town might want to consider its purchase to solve the problems of narrow School Lane.
Sitte said the town met first in closed session and then open session to discuss investigating the purchase. He said the original asking price for the property was $194,900, and the town’s assessment is $188,600.
“So after we came back for another meeting, we decided that because there are so many people that are interested in this piece of property and the town board thought it would be a great asset to the town to have this in our possession,” Sitte said.
The town offered $200,000 and the owners came back with a counteroffer of $205,000 and a 30-day deadline.
That, Sitte said, is why the meeting of electors was called. He added that because of the 30-day deadline, there hasn’t been time for the town’s Plan Commission to consider what to do with the rest of the property. The town thought the home could be sold and moved to another location by the buyer, as has been done recently in Jacksonport and Egg Harbor.
Sitte then asked for those in attendance to give their ideas about the property and the proposal before a vote. Several people voiced support for purchasing the property and providing the home to someone for low-income housing.
Sitte pointed out the town would have no cost in moving the home from the property because that would be the responsibility of whoever purchased the home.
There were suggestions that the rest of the property be turned into a park, rather than a parking lot. Several people wondered aloud why the town wasn’t focusing on other property instead of this piece, specifically, the former Nelson’s Hardware waterfront property next to the town marina, but Sitte explained the property is not for sale.
Another suggestion that the town just buy enough of the property to widen School Lane was shot down due to zoning setbacks that would put the road too close to the home.
“If we don’t own it, the road will stay as wide as it is, 12 feet,” Sitte said.
Town Plan Commission Chair Gordon Rowley spoke in favor of the purchase, as did town board member Roberta Thelen, both of whom said this was a great opportunity for the town to buy a strategic piece of land.
When Sitte asked if the voters preferred a show of hands vote or secret ballot, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of a ballot vote. Twenty people voted against the purchase, and 15 voted for it, so the property will go back on the open market.