By Janie Southard
ST. HENRY -- Appraisal of about a dozen homes in the Osterholt subdivision is scheduled for late Wednesday afternoon.
But it comes as a surprise to subdivision residents, most of whom oppose the sidewalk installation to which the appraisal applies.
Mayor LaVern Schulze, who lives in that subdivision, told council members he had just received a call from the St. Marys appraisers in which the Wednesday date was mentioned.
"I didn't know anything about it, and he seemed surprised that I didn't know anything about it," the mayor said at Monday night's council meeting.
The Osterholt/Eastview Estate sidewalk controversy is now in its second year with as many as 30 residents attending council meetings during that period to voice opposition to installing sidewalks in their neighborhood. They have said the dead-end neighborhood doesn't need sidewalks, which would only destroy current landscaping. Most residents now appear resigned to having sidewalks, but question the legal right of the village to take a portion of their property to install the sidewalks without reimbursement. Village Solicitor Dave Bruns had said originally there would be nothing paid to the residents because it's never been handled that way in the past.
He further assured council early on that "actually the property owners have the burden to show your actions are illegal or inappropriate."
However, residents read portions of the law covering eminent domain and the government's right to acquire private property without the property owner's consent.
Karen Ranly read at a previous meeting that "a landowner must receive just compensation for property that is appropriated ... based on fair market value taken plus any damages resulting to ... remaining lands."
Thus, the appraisals have been set for Wednesday between 4 and 5 p.m.
In response to the mayor's objection that no residents have been duly informed, Village Administrator Don Hess said he will write a letter to the residents and see that it is hand delivered today.
Hess said at Monday's meeting the appraisals are for six feet of property along the subdivision streets to include four feet of sidewalk and two feet of greenspace.
In other discussion, Paulette Huber of Poggemeyer Design Group distributed preliminary plans to council members in order for them to "go after substantial grant money" for the new community park planned for north of town. As well she gave them a feasibility study on a new swimming pool.
Many components are involved including landscaping and perhaps even a sand volleyball area, according to Hess.
"This will be progressive, something we phase into," Hess said.
Council will review the plans and discuss them further at the next meeting on Aug. 8.
In other action, council:
´ Hired Benecorp as group insurance provider for the coming year for $70,500, which is only $12 more than last year's premium with Med Mutual. Med Mutual's bid for the coming year was $90,012.
´ Learned the rebids for the business park south of town are July 20 and 27 with bids to be opened on Aug. 4 at 11 a.m. in the village office.
´ Learned Hometown Cable has completed the tower in Coldwater and is installing underground cable in that town. It plans offices in both Coldwater and St. Henry with its maintenance building and garage to be in St. Henry.