Problems with Bermico
City pushes to raze building


Feb. 13, 2015

Owner John Bagley talks about the newly installed sprinkler system in one of his units at the industrial park in West Bend. Bagley has five units ready to lease but can not due to restrictions from the City of West Bend.
Photo by John Ehlke

WEST BEND - A Washington County judge was told Thursday that West Bend officials are growing more concerned about the safety of the former Bermico building and will continue efforts to raze it.

Attorney Timothy Algiers, representing the city, said “no occupancy” signs posted by West Bend officials on the building have been removed several times and work is needed to make the building at 2100 Northwestern Ave. safe.

The city has been involved in legal efforts since 2012 with the building’s owner, John Bagley, who claims he is trying to renovate the building for new businesses.

In court documents, the city has described the building as “dilapidated, dangerous and in an unsafe condition.” They said in legal documents, deadlines have passed without Bagley making repairs and improvements needed to stop the raze order.

“We feel we’ve done everything they’ve requested, but it seems every time we do that they come back with 10 more things for us to do,” Bagley said Thursday.

 Lights put outside of different units at the industrial park in West Bend. 
Photo by John Ehlke

Bagley said he has permits he’s received from the state for his project and believes city officials have failed to follow state code. He said officials have been misleading potential investors about the project to scare them away from becoming partners.

Algiers told Circuit Judge James Muehlbauer during Thursday’s hearing all of the DNR permits Bagley had received for the project expired in 2014.

The permit will expire in August, Algiers said.

“With city officials, it’s like one hand doesn’t know what the other’s doing,” Bagley said, adding it’s caused delays from them.

“John, you may be in over your head,” Muehlbauer said. “You may have been too optimistic about this project from the start. I think you’re hoping this will somehow miraculously work out and I don’t think that will happen.”

Muehlbauer asked both sides to see if they could still work out an amicable agreement — “but that doesn’t appear likely,” the judge said.

Algiers told the court the city is so concerned about safety it would like to see a fence around the building.

“Wasn’t there a fence up there before?” asked Bagley’s attorney, Mark Brunner, who was taking part in the hearing via telephone. “I think the city told him to tear it down. Now they want it up?”

Algiers told the court any order to tear down the fence did not come from the city.

Included in court documents were affidavits from city officials detailing the condition of the building and Bagley’s efforts to develop the property.

“Bagley represented to me he had arranged for repairs of the building’s fire suppression system,” West Bend Fire Department Capt. Tammy Lamberg said in one affidavit. “He failed to complete those repairs.”

Lamberg also said in the affidavit “due to problems with the building’s structural integrity, the West Bend Fire Department will not order personnel into the property for interior fires.”

Officials from the Police Department and the building inspector’s office called the property a “substantial risk to public safety.”

The affidavit from the Police Department called the property an “extreme risk to the public.” The document stated between Oct. 26, 2012, and June 17, the department had responded to 27 calls at the building which ranged from suspicious people in the area to burglary, theft and criminal damage to property. The affidavit called that many police calls to one location “extremely high.”

Bagley recently hired Brunner as his attorney. The judge gave Brunner 20 days to file a response to the city’s original claim. A hearing will be scheduled after that.

Algiers said that after Brunner’s response is received, they would likely push to have a hearing held so evidence could he heard to have the court issue a raze order.

“We want a fast track on this case,” Algiers said. “It has dragged on far too long.”