A resident’s complaint to the village of Prairie du Sac over property damage caused by recent road repairs could change how the village communicates with property owners during construction projects.
Village of Prairie du Sac residents Jenna and Shannon McCann first addressed members of the village board at an Oct. 9 meeting, stating they were frustrated about the removal of a flower garden that extended eight to 10 feet behind the curb line.
Shannon McCann told the board each time he received an email about the problem, the answer would change.
“It’s been there for 18 years with no concerns,” Shannon McCann said. “I was looking for more information.”
He said he received an email response back from Prairie du Sac Village Administrator Alan Wildman citing a village ordinance that any plantings in the right-of-way were at the risk of the property owner, and that noxious weeds were present.
“If noxious weeds were present on the property, as he stated, shouldn’t we have been given a five-day notice to remove them?” Shannon McCann said.
A right-of-way gives the village the authority to utilize or make adjustments to a portion of a homeowner’s property, most commonly for street projects and utilities.
“I know plantings in the right-of-way are at our own risk, but the village also has an ordinance promoting plantings and not lawns,” Shannon McCann said. “That garden was there for 18 years, has contributed to the wildlife habitat as well as educational programs at the Ruth Culver Community Library.”
At the village’s Oct. 25 meeting, Jenna McCann returned to express her dismay over finding even more damage than previously noted, stating she would not be able to provide the library and the larger community with an educational program she’s voluntarily done for the past five years.
“I recently received a thank you note from Beth Hayes, the children’s librarian at the Ruth Culver Community Library for running a monarch butterfly display from June to September, noting the patrons really enjoy it,” Jenna McCann said. “Unfortunately due to how the property has been handled, I will have to let them down. The milkweed that supplied that project (was located on the property that was torn out.”
The topic was addressed at the village’s Nov. 1 Public Works meeting, after Public Works Director Troy Murphy had a chance to visit the McCann’s property.
“We had a nice discussion and (the milkweed) does look like dried flower stalks this time of year,” McCann said. “I think we came to the conclusion had there been discussion ahead of time a lot of things could have been avoided.”
Wildman said they have discussed how to better communicate with residents during road construction.
“Going forward we will have a statement in there that anything in the right-of-way is subject to damage or removal,” Wildman said.
Public Works Committee member Nick Lester asked the McCanns since they’ve acknowledged knowing about the ordinance, why they question how much of the property would be disturbed.
“The way the memo was worded the property was only going to be restored to black dirt where there was a disturbance by the construction project,” Shannon McCann said. “They only disturbed two feet of property, they did not disturb the 10-feet of property that was taken out.”
Murphy said the McCanns requested an apology and better communication in the future.
“We did give our apologies and normally we like to blend that,” Murphy said. “Did we go back a little too far? Possibly, but it was still in the right-of-way. But we didn’t reach back out to say, ‘hey, we’re going back into this.’ That’s what we came to a conclusion on.”
The McCanns said they would be willing to work with the village in the future should it decide to review the ordinance.
“Even in the new ordinances for landscaping you discourage lawns and have a point system based on different flowers and plants,” Shannon McCann said. “It kind of goes against itself when you are pushing to have more green initiatives but then you discourage plantings and put lawns back in place.”
Village Board President Cheryl Sherman who is also a member of the Public Works Committee said the village appreciates what the McCanns do with the library and for the community. “Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do now,” Sherman said, “except include you guys when we do look into that.”