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Oft-flood New Berlin homes will get a raze

City agrees to remove four homes, with funding from DNR

Oct. 12, 2012

New Berlin - After several months of deliberations, city officials this week decided to move forward with a proposal to raze homes in a flood plain, with financial assistance from the state.

New Berlin will purchase four residential properties - 1517 S. 124th St., 2769 S. 124th St., 16628 Addison Ave. and 12415 Meadow Lane - in the near future. When each property owner receives the funds, the process of razing the homes will begin.

The entire project - including legal costs, acquisition proceedings and demolition work - carries a projected $932,400 price tag.

Costs softened by DNR

However, must of the funding would come from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which announced in September that it would provide the city with a $625,000 grant covering two-thirds of the cost. The city, which approved the deal Tuesday, will need to fund the balance of $307,400.

The grant comes with a number of caveats, including a stipulation that all property owners must be willing participants. Eminent domain cannot be used as a mechanism to see the project to fruition.

The total cost of the project took into account a number of pieces of information, including appraisal data on each of the four properties. The DNR required the city and all other participants in the project to go through a number of specific steps in determining the appraised value of each property.

Razing all four homes is expected to cost $180,000, a figure built into the total cost of the project.

Solution or settlement?

While most of the council was supportive of plans to move forward and raze the four homes, Alderman Dave Ament voted against the effort.

While he sympathized with the property owners' plight, he said the maneuver does not get at the root issues in the area.

"This benefits the property owners," Ament said. "While I don't blame them for wanting to do this, it doesn't enhance the stormwater issues we have in Underwood Creek."

Underwood Creek runs alongside the four homes being acquired, and each has been flooded in numerous instances.

But Alderman John Hopkins had a different perspective.

"We've been discussing the problems (the property owners) have had, and they've had major property damage," Hopkins said. "All of these people have made a good case over the years. They did not know about these problems when they purchased their homes. They didn't know what they were getting into."

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