THE CARRIAGE BARN
339 south Locust Street
Janesville, Wisconsin 53548-4655
Christine Wilson, Chief Building Official
Housing, Building, and Neighborhood Services
18 North Jackson Street
Post Office Box 5005
Janesville, WI 53547-5005
Saturday, July 19, 2003
RE: 1402 West Court Street, Janesville, WI
Detached Garage/Carriage Barn
Legal Description: Mitchell’s 3rd Addition, Lot 95
Dear Ms. Wilson;
This letter is in response to your July 18, 2003 “condemnation order” that I received today.
Yes, on June 9, 2003, you inspected the above mentioned detached garage/carriage house, though you had not a single complaint or concern about this building from any neighbor or resident or property occupant or police report. The building is not “unsafe”, it needs a new roof. Of course the building is “unfit for human habitation” as it is not a residential unit, thus it does not need indoor plumbing, insulation, or central heat. Nor is the building a “public nuisance” simply because a new roof could possibly cost someone more than $346.97.
I stated to you and Jay that day, June 9, 2003 that I was having the roof replaced before this winter of 2003 by my brother with materials left over from other roofing jobs, and that the beer for his labor would not exceed the $346.97. I assumed the matter was settled at that time.
On July 7, 2003, I received your July 2″d, 2003 “notice letter” and I was very surprised that the letter included your expectation that the garage/carriage house be torn down. I was also surprised that you expected that it be torn down by July 16, 2003, just nine days after I had received the notice, when WI statute would require a 30 day notice, as would the WI State Historical Society.
On July 7, 2003, that same day, I called your office clarifying again that I would be replacing the roof and that the cost was below the $346.97. And I spoke with you on four additional occasions that day getting additional information. Jay Winzenz was not in and he did not later return my call. I also spoke with the assessor’s office, and the codes office. From those conversations I shared the following information with you and again, I assumed the matter was settled.
Per WI statute 66.0413; “If the cost of repairs to a historic building would be less than 85% of the assessed value of the building divided by the ratio of the assessed value to the recommended value as last published by the department of revenue for the municipality within which the historic building is located, the repairs are presumed reasonable”.
In other words, if repairing this building is less than $346.97, I am not allowed to tear it down but must repair it. Repairing this building, as I restated to you on Monday July 9, 2003, will be less than $346.97, I thus do not have legal authority to raze this historic building. Nor do I want to destroy it. I repair it gladly.
Also, this law is for me. It protects me from “unreasonable” repair expenses. You may not require “unreasonable” repair costs of me. The law would allow me the option to destroy this historic building should the repair costs exceed the $346.97 and should that amount also be “unreasonable” to me. But this statute does not “require” that I raze the building should the repair cost be higher. It does not prevent me the option of repairing my building. (Posnonski v. City of West Allis, 61 Wis.2d 461.213N.W.2d 51 (1973)
But, as you already knew, in this case, that even if the cost to replace the roof would have been more than the $346.97, any roof replacement cost would be significantly lower than the appraised value for the building, which appraises for many thousands of dollars. Any roof replacement cost would also be significantly lower that the replacement cost of the entire building which would also be many thousands of dollars. Thirdly, the elimination of an outbuilding significantly lowers the resale market value of a real estate parcel. Your presumption was incorrect that a possible repair cost to me of more than $346.97 would have been unreasonable. And your expectation that I would want to destroy my building was also incorrect. Your attempt to prevent me from repairing a perfectly fine building was unreasonable.
On July 19, 2003 I was served with your “condemnation order”!
If you seriously thought that the current roof was a necessary immediate repair or defect, why did you not issue a notice with time limit to remedy or repair? And what would be unreasonable with my time line of replacing the roof prior to the winter of this year? When several blighted properties receive endless citizen complaints, why would you not be addressing those real concerns instead of wasting your time targeting me for no reason?
I suppose there are many garages in your own neighborhood that might need a new door, or new eves troughs, or a new roof. Based on the percentage of the tax-assessed value, these folks would have the option of razing all those buildings. Will you be issuing “condemnation orders” to all of those neighbors attempting to require that they not be allowed to make the repairs?
By your own admission, you have pulled this on ten of my neighbors. Are you red-lining my neighborhood with illegal harassment?
Or did you simply needed this in writing? Here it is. I will no longer assume that face to face conversation or calls to your office resolves a matter, though your letter said that it would. Please confirm in writing that your July 18, 2003 “condemnation order” for the historic garage/carriage house at 1402 West Court Street has been retracted. Sincerely,
K. Andreah Briarmoon
P.C.: City Manager Steve Scheiffer Code Supervisor Jay Winzenz M & I Bank mortgage holder Forward Janesville Chamber of Commerce Board City Council seven members City Attorney Wald Klymczyc Representative Paul Ryan Senator Russ Feingold Legal Action of WI Attorney Mark Robinson