WAPELLA — Wapella could be in danger of losing one of its Walnut Circle businesses after discussion Tuesday put the village board at odds with the owner.
Werner “Duffy” Haremaker is developing a business that tests high performance engines and cars.
Haremaker was at Tuesday’s village board meeting to request copies of ordinances dealing with the nine parcels classified as “industrial” located at Walnut Circle. He also wanted to obtain copies for the other property owners.
Board president Sherry Mears advised Haremaker he could view the ordinance at the village hall and obtain copies through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). She said other property owners could do the same.
But, she conceded the hours the village hall is open were sporadic.
Municipal or county offices generally do not require FOIA requests to obtain copies of ordinance pages. The City of Clinton, for example, provides the entirety of the city code for free online.
Mears said an updated Wapella code book was now available. Haremaker asked if the separate zoning classifications were clearly identified.
“I haven’t looked at it, but I’m sure,” Mears said. “When you look at the book, you’ll be able to see that it’s sectioned.”
Mears offered to meet Haremaker at the village hall if he needed help.
Haremaker has been in the process of trying to buy from the village a narrow strip of land adjacent to his. Trustees have in previous meetings reported that the property was too small to construct any buildings.
Haremaker was making his third recent visit to the village board about the matter.
Mears said she wanted to have Haremaker’s property surveyed before making any decision. At least one resident at Tuesday’s meeting said the property already had been surveyed.
“So, what’s the actual question,” Haremaker asked.
“We want to see where our land is,” Mears said.
At this point, Haremaker said he could move the small structure he placed on the property.
“…And, I’ll bulldoze exactly what we just modified there down into the hole, and then you can have it back,” Haremaker told trustees.
Haremaker said an earlier village board gave him authority to use the small portion of village property as long as he had it cleaned up first. He also placed a small structure at least partially on the property.
He said he spent $8,000 cleaning up the property.
“We’re just trying to see where we stand,” Mears said. “We still need to look in to some things that regard the license of fuel on your property. Remember, we had talked about it?”
“No,” Haremaker responded.
The village attorney said the village’s research was to ensure Haremaker complies with the zoning ordinance.
Haremaker said his development has followed what he originally proposed.
“I came here, and I bought that land with everybody on the board at that time knowing exactly what we were going to do,” Haremaker said.
Trustee Tracy Mann said the board was not trying to discourage Haremaker from developing his business in Wapella.
“We want you to have a business here,” Mann said.
“As far as I understand right now, there’s five feet behind my building to the drainage ditch that belongs to you,”Haremaker said. “We have brought in outside people, brought in all that dirt, grassed it, and we’ve been using it.”
“I have $800,000 down there right now, and that’s paid for,” Haremaker said. “I don’t want to put any more money into that land if you don’t want me to be there. I’ve heard the general consensus around from several people that you don’t want me here.”
Trustee Michael Daab said he supported Haremaker’s business locating in Wapella. During Tuesday’s meeting, none of the board members said they opposed his business.
Mears said the board was trying to determine what best for the village, not opposing Haremaker’s business.
“I have an approved permit sitting on my desk that said I could build my building there,” Haremaker said.
“That’s all we need,” Daab said.
“But, that’s been the problem with this village,” Mears said. “We’ve allowed people permits, but then they don’t follow through.”
Mears said whoever issued Haremaker’s permit was supposed measure the footings of Haremaker’s building once they were in.
“But, nobody ever did,” she said.
She said additional measurements were needed once the building was erected.
“So, that’s not his problem, that’s our problem, and we okayed that,” Daab said.
“That board okayed it, yes,” Mears said.
Mears said she wasn’t suggesting Haremaker needed to bulldoze anything, “I’m saying we’re going to have to make an adjustment with the assessor’s office, we’re going to have to make an adjustment with everything.”
“I’m protecting him, and I’m protecting us as well,” Mears said.