Floundering in Little Hope
The Little Hope Lake District Board had an ambitious agenda when it met Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Dayton Town Hall.
There were plans to redraw the district’s boundaries, detach 131 non-riparian properties from the district, and schedule a special meeting of electors for Oct. 19.
After more than 90 minutes, however, none of the three primary agenda items were accomplished.
Most of the meeting was spent hearing complaints from the public.
Prior to the meeting, Chris Klein, who chairs both the Dayton Town Board and the lake district board, had mailed forms to about 180 district residents asking if they wanted out of the district.
Klein said about 50 residents responded and only half a dozen indicated they wished to remain in the lake district.
Klein came to the Oct. 3 meeting prepared to introduce a motion to allow all residents who do not own property along the former pond to withdraw. He had a map indicating much smaller boundaries for the district.
Several riparian property owners, who live along what had been the Little Hope Mill Pond until the county removed the dam, told Klein at the meeting that they also wanted to withdraw from the lake district.
Jim Miller said he did not want to be in a lake district because he did not support saving the pond.
“I prefer a flowing stream to nine inches of water above muck,” Miller said.
“You have every right to organize a lobbying group, but to disguise your lobbying group as a lake district seems inappropriate and unfair,” said Don Holtebeck.
Holtebeck is a riparian landowner who has sought unsuccessfully to withdraw from the lake district.
Klein disagreed that the Little Hope Lake District was little more than a lobbying group.
“I’m trying to work with other neighbors in the area who want to save the dam,” Klein said.
“You did that on your own,” Holtebeck said, regarding the decision to form a lake district. “You told everybody present at that meeting that you had the authority to form a lake district and you did.”
“Why would you waste time and money to send out a petition when you’ve already made a decision to force riparian landowners to be in the district?” Waupaca County Parks and Rec Director Roger Holman asked Klein.
Holman said three members of the Dayton Town Board made a decision to form the lake district without a petition from residents and now three members of the town board are making a decision to continue the lake district.
“You are not listening to the people,” Holman said.
Noting that both the lake and the dam are now gone, Holtebeck said, “There is no reason to have a lake district. It is a taxing entity that ought not to exist.”
“The dam is gone now, but I’m not as convinced as you are that it won’t be replaced,” Klein said.
Several of those at the Oct. 3 meeting pressed Klein about the number of riparian landowners who responded to the lake district’s mailing. They wanted to know how many of them indicated that they wanted to remain in the district.
Klein said eight of those who responded wished to be included in the district, while six asked to be removed.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” said Dayton Supervisor Lee Schroeder. “They want to know why you are letting other people opt out but you’re not letting them opt out.”
Schroeder said the lake district board should not decide on redrawing the boundaries without hearing from more of the 50 riparian landowners. He noted that many of them had not responded to the questionnaire.
“Obviously, there are still people in the lake district who want to be out of it,” Schroeder said, noting that at least seven of those at the meeting wanted to be excluded.
Klein made a motion to detach about 130 non-riparian parcels from the district. Supervisor Glen Newsome seconded the motion, saying, “We need to remove as many people as we can.”
Then, Schroeder made a motion to table Klein’s motion. Newsome seconded that motion, saying, “I would like to hear from the people who didn’t respond.”
Schroeder recommended sending another letter to all the people who did not respond to the first mailing.
“We can’t force everyone to respond,” Klein said.
Dayton resident Maggie Elmer noted that the questionnaire sent by the lake district came in an envelope with no return address. She suggested that many of those who failed to respond may have discarded the mailing without realizing what it was.
Klein said the lake district does not have stationary yet because it does not have a budget. It is currently operating on donations, he said.
Then the board voted 3-0 to table the motion to detach 130 people from the lake district.
Klein then made a motion to pull his motion back on the table.
“I made a motion to table it until we get further information,” Schroeder said. “You can’t do that.”
The board then voted 2-1 not to pull the motion off the table and the meeting was adjourned.
Schroeder said he plans to knock on doors and personally ask riparian residents whether they wish to remain in the district.