First of two patrols this weekend

Stoughton’s first high-visibility OWI patrol of the year is this weekend. 

From 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, 10 patrol cars from seven jurisdictions will cruise the streets of Stoughton in a high-profile display to dissuade people from considering operating while intoxicated. 

This is the third year for Stoughton in the “Capital Area OWI Task Force,” a state grant-funded program that continues to add new wrinkles in its fourth year. It has grown from a half-dozen agencies to 14, adding more visual elements and this year splitting most patrols in half and will accompany some of them with a police car that’s been repainted to look like half-taxi, half-squad car.

Half the traveling officers will be in Stoughton this weekend, and the other half will be in Oregon on the same night. The two will again share the patrols in July.


Stoughton woman killed in I-90 crash

A 30-year-old Stoughton woman was killed following a crash in Madison Monday.

According to a news release from the Wisconsin State Patrol, emergency responders were called around 5:20 p.m. Monday April 20, to the eastbound on ramp from the Beltline to southbound I-90 for a single-vehicle crash.

Authorities said a 2008 Mazda left the road and struck a tree, causing fatal injuries to the lone occupant. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the news release.

The identity of the victim had not been released as of press time Tuesday, pending notification of family members. The investigation is ongoing.


Council rejects homing pigeons

Homing pigeons apparently are not like chickens.

Over the objections of Dist. 1 Ald. Sid Boersma, who cited research that cities allowing homing pigeons don’t show related health or nuisance problems, the Common Council last week rejected a request to allow up to 50 of the birds to be kept on a single property.

The 7-4 vote puts an end to a saga that began in October with a request by city resident Rosalie Bjelde to keep homing pigeons – also known as racing pigeons – in a loft at her property on Broadway Street.

Alders showed some initial support for crafting an ordinance despite two negative recommendations by the Planning Commission – noting that the city allows residents to keep chickens – but in this case, they declined to follow through.


Future of KPW development in jeopardy

The viability of the Kettle Park West is in doubt.

The Super Wal-Mart-anchored commercial center’s developer has asked for a change in its agreement with the city, and at least one alder who had previously been in favor of KPW has indicated he won't support the change. The Common Council has been deadlocked for months on votes about KPW, with six alders supporting the development and six opposed. The mayor has broken several ties in favor of proceeding.

Stoughton Ald. Eric Hohol (D-4) has backed the project from the beginning, but Tuesday he told the council and developer he would not support approving a third version of the city’s development agreement with Forward Development Group if it requires the city’s TIF assistance.

Hohol’s statement followed a presentation by attorney Dan O’Callaghan, a partner with Michael Best & Friedrich, in which O’Callaghan outlined the basics of a proposed new development plan and financing arrangement.


Council’s MillFab offer: $700K

The Common Council last week approved an offer to purchase the former MillFab property that the city’s Redevelopment Authority had recommended in March.

The city is offering $700,000 for the 6-acre property, which officials see as part of a redevelopment strategy for land along the Yahara River near downtown Stoughton.

MillFab/Holley Mouldings Inc. ceased operating the facility on the site in September, and the property is in receivership.

The offer to purchase is contingent on results of testing the property for environmental contamination and requires the sellers to remove any hazardous substances and petroleum products from the site at 433 E. South St., including electronics waste.


Votes indicate no silent majority

Last week’s Common Council election had the appearance of shaking up of the status quo. Two candidates who have been critical of the Kettle Park West approval process prevailed over opponents who had voiced support for the project.

And the results of three KPW referendum questions suggest that residents strongly support downtown and Yahara Riverfront redevelopment, but there’s less than majority support for developing Kettle Park West, especially if it means city borrowing to support the effort.

Still, it’s difficult to say anything definitive about public sentiment overall when just 33 percent of registered voters went to the polls.


Utility moratorium ends April 15

Stoughton Utilities plans to disconnect electric service to all severely delinquent accounts on April 16. According to Stoughton Utilities, more than 2,100 utility customers have overdue bills totaling over $421,900.

Stoughton Utilities is advising electric and water customers who are behind on their bills to immediately pay any delinquent balances, or make payment arrangements with the utility to avoid service disconnection. Wisconsin’s Winter Emergency Period that run Nov. 1 through April 15 (often referred to as the moratorium on residential service disconnection), was established to protect customers from service disconnection during harsh Wisconsin winters.

After that date, utilities can disconnect service to customers who are past due on payment of their electric bills. 


Council considers making an offer for MillFab

The city could soon make an offer to purchase the former MillFab property that the city’s Redevelopment Authority recommended in March.

The Common Council was scheduled to hold a special meeting Wednesday to consider the offer. The council met in closed session at its last meeting on March 24 to discuss the offer but didn’t make a decision. This week’s council meeting took place after the Courier Hub’s Tuesday deadline. 

City officials are interested in acquiring the 6-acre property as part of a redevelopment strategy for land along the Yahara River near downtown Stoughton.

MillFab/Holley Mouldings Inc. ceased operating the facility on the site in September and is in receivership.

At its March 11 meeting, the Redevelopment Authority met in closed session and emerged with an offer to purchase the property for an undisclosed amount.


Council to revisit pigeon request

The Common Council at its meeting next week is expected to decide whether to adopt an ordinance allowing residents to keep racing pigeons within city limits.

Alders took a look at the Planning Commission’s latest recommendation to not allow the birds late last month, but the issue has gone back and forth between the council and the Planning Commission since January.

At its Jan. 12 meeting, the commission discussed the issue and sent it to council on a 5-1 vote recommending the council deny a request to amend the zoning code to allow keeping pigeons in the city. Ald. Greg Jenson (D-3) was the only commission member to vote against the recommendation.

The commission cited the potential for neighborhood nuisance and the fact that only one property owner had requested the change as reasons for its recommendation.


City responds to retirees’ insurance concern

Six retired city employees who have remained on the city’s insurance plan received good news last month about their 2015 health insurance rates.

At its March 24 meeting, the Common Council agreed with a proposal to keep the retirees’ 2015 health insurance premiums at the 2014 rate – plus a 10 percent increase – because the city had failed to notify them last year of an impending rate increase in time for them to seek other insurance.