The yellow signs that recently appeared on County Road 6 all say the same thing: no racetrack development at our expense.
They dot the road on both sides as you drive across the city limits on County Road 6 just outside La Crescent.
The residents who agreed to allow the signs to be put up in their front yards are not happy and they want people to know why.
“I didn’t know we lived in a society where they could just take over and tell you you’re going to pay $30,000 and you have no voice,” said Charlie Hinders, who has one of the signs outside his County Road 6 home.
Hinders was talking about the city’s plan to annex 47 properties along County Road 6 to connect city sewer and water to the planned Horse Track Meadows residential development.
The development, on what was known as the racetrack property, is expected to see the construction of over 70 homes and an apartment complex.
The site already has been annexed into the city but the properties along County Road 6 are part of the township. Now, the city is working to annex the County Road 6 properties. Any property that is annexed must connect to city sewer and waters.
City officials estimate that will cost each property owner around $27,000 and that’s just the cost to connect to a homeowner’s property line. The homeowner must then pay for the additional cost to run the two lines from the property line to their home.
Many of the affected homeowners see the financial burden as unfair and say they are being forced to subsidize the racetrack development by covering the cost of running city services to the site.
“We don’t want to pay for the racetrack development,” Hinders said.
City council members have noted at public meetings that the city is not forcing property owners to annex, at least not for the next 10 years, at which time the council will decide if it wants to use state law to forcibly annex any properties that remain in the township.
However, city engineer Tim Hruska, speaking at a recent meeting, noted that any property owners who don’t volunteer for annexation will see the cost of doing so increase for every year they wait. That’s because the city will issue a bond to pay for the project and the interest rate on the bond, which Hruska estimated at 4 percent, will be added annually to the bill for those who choose not to accept annexation.
Robert Fischer, another County Road 6 resident, said he and many of his neighbors would like to see the developer pay more for the cost of the infrastructure to lighten the load for homeowners subject to annexation.
“We are getting screwed because they want $27,000 from us and more to connect from the property line,” Fischer said. “The developer isn’t paying hardly anything plus he’s going to make a fortune off the land.”
The developer behind the racetrack development is Mike Sexauer, who is the CEO of La Crosse-based building supply company Badger Corrugating. Mr. Sexauer could not be reached for comment by the Houston County News deadline.
The exact amount homeowners along County Road 6 won’t be known until July or August, when the city solicits bids for the project. Estimates from Hruska put the combined cost of connecting to city water and sewer at around $27,000.
Homeowners have said they’ve had difficulty getting quotes from firms for the cost of connecting the services to their homes from the property line, adding to their anxiety about the final cost they’ll have to pay.