Bermico building owner files counterclaim
Wants reimbursement of lost income


March 6, 2015

 Snow covers the ground in front of the Bermico building seen Thursday afternoon in West Bend. 
John Ehlke/Daily News

WEST BEND - The owner of the former Bermico building has accused West Bend officials of sabotaging his efforts to repair and lease space in the decades-old structure.

In a response and counterclaim filed Wednesday regarding the city’s efforts to have the building razed, John Bagley said the city’s actions are “a direct result of its desire to possess the property now that it’s been improved by the site cleanup and asbestos abatement.”

The city has been involved in legal efforts since 2012 with the building’s former owner, and Bagley. In court documents, the city described the building as “dilapidated, dangerous and in an unsafe condition.” They said deadlines have passed without Bagley making repairs needed to halt the raze order. A police department affidavit calls the property an “extreme risk to the public.”

In the response, Bagley demands an “immediate order finding the (city’s) claim of grounds for the raze order unreasonable and that any further attempts to issue or enforce a raze order be permanently enjoined unless and until its condition is substantially changed.”

He denied the building lacks structural integrity.

Bagley also seeks “costs in defending this action and for a sum sufficient to reimburse (him) for intentional overcharges and lost income as result of the city’s actions and for such further relief the court deems appropriate.”

In the counterclaim, Bagley accuses city officials of:

■ Routinely overcharging him for permit fees and collecting more than $4,000 in excess of usual and customary amounts.

■ Placing or causing untrue stories and information about the property to be printed in local newspapers.

■ Causing Bagley to lose investors and financing opportunities valued at $250,000 and losing tenants who could have leased space for $8,000 a month.

■ Failing to submit applications on Bagley’s behalf for grants in excess of $200,000 which could have paid for building capital improvements.

■ Refusing since May to have contact with him for any reason including for issuing permits, inspections upon the completion of permits and meetings with officials to complete work.

During a Feb. 12 scheduling conference, attorney Timothy Algiers, representing the city, said “no occupancy” signs posted by West Bend officials on the building had been removed several times.

In his response, Bagley admitted the “no occupancy” signs had been removed. He accused the city of pushing for the raze order to intimidate and harass him.

“Since October 2012, the city has engaged in an orchestrated course of action toward (Bagley) to make improvements and then ask for more improvements that go above those required by state building code,” Bagley said.

Algiers told the court at the earlier hearing Department of Natural Resources permits granted to Bagley for the project expired in 2014 and Bagley’s overall design plan permit with the city expires in August. The fire department has gone on record that it will not send personnel into the building “due to problems with its structural integrity.”

Bagley said “if the Fire Department refuses to enter the building it’s only based upon political pressure brought by city officials. It has nothing to do with the building’s structural integrity.”

Algiers said he hadn’t seen the filing Thursday and needs time to consider it. “After that I’ll file a response and we could get together with the judge for a scheduling conference,” Algiers said.

Attorney Mark Brunner is representing Bagley in the case.