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Wells still battling elevator issue

By Staff | Jan 20, 2013

For the second straight City Council meeting, a Wells resident wanted to know what’s being done about the abandoned Frank Bros. Feed and Grain Inc. properties on North Broadway.

City Administrator Steve Bloom says he is aware that a damaged grain bin poses a safety hazard.

The city administrator says he’ll put together a proposal soon and present it to the council.

“These five people are going to have to make a decision,” Bloom says of the council.

Brad Heggen, chairman of the city’s Economic Development Authority, informed board members at their last meeting that the properties are for sale.

They have been listed for more than 30 days with Heggen Realty at an asking price of $600,000.

Councilman Ann Marie Schuster says the city has been working on the issue for four years.

“It’s very frustrating. It’s moving incredibly slow,” she says.

Schuster was referring to the legal process.

The city filed a civil suit to have the structure declared unsafe so it could be torn down.

But, tax-forfeiture proceedings against the property owner halted condemnation efforts.

Now, it appears city officials will be able to take action.

The State Bank of Easton purchased the five properties with a high bid of $90,000 during a sheriff’s sale held last May.

In November, Judge Douglas Richards ruled the owner had six months to reclaim the properties. He failed to meet that deadline.

“We’re going to be dealing with them (State Bank of Easton) now. They were also named in the suit to tear down the elevator,” says assistant City Attorney Randy Bichler.

Getting rid of the eyesore has cost the city.

In 2011, Wells officials approved spending $1,000 for an engineering study to assess storm-damage to the grain bin.

The council was advised to act immediately.

“The integrity of the structure has been comprised and could potentially create a safety risk to local property owners if another storm event occurs,” the engineering report said.

City Attorney David Frundt also was paid nearly $725 in legal fees for his work regarding the properties.

He stopped providing the city legal counsel after being hired to represent State Bank of Easton. Bichler says he plans to talk with Frundt soon.