Germantown to pay part of developer’s design fee request


August 17, 2017

A construction worker walks across the top of the Gehl Foods building
Tuesday morning in Germantown.
John Ehlke/Daily News

There’s an old saying that half a loaf is better than none, and that appears to be nearly what the developer of Saxony Village in the village of Germantown receive for design fees they said they incurred in trying to work with the village in a sanitary sewer project that benefits Gehl Foods.

During a recent Village Board meeting, trustees agreed to pay JBJ Development $15,000 of their original request for about $33,000.

“It was fair to settle with them on some part of their request,” said Village President Dean Wolter.

Wolter said two proposed motions regarding the settlement were defeated before the $15,000 settlement was approved.

“First there was a motion to pay them $16,000, it failed and then a second motion to pay them $12,000 failed,” Wolter said. “Then the motion to pay $15,000 was finally approved.”

Village Department of Public Works Director and Interim Village Administrator Larry Ratayczak said earlier the controversy surrounds a request last year from the village to JBJ Development, which is constructing Saxony Village along Main Street in the downtown area, to help the village increase capacity of the sanitary sewer along Main Street.

“We needed more capacity in our sewer to handle a request from Gehl Foods for additional flow capacity into our sewer system because they want to increase production,” Ratayczak said. “Through the design process we worked together(with JBJ) to have their engineers redesign their sanitary sewer system to flow in a different direction and put in a larger pipe through their property for us to have added capacity.”

Ratayczak said problems came about in the mid or latter part of last year when the village attorney advised that according to state statutes the dollar amount involved required the village to publicly bid the project.

The exterior of Gehl Foods in Germantown is seen Tuesday morning.
John Ehlke/Daily News

It was then decided the developer should use an agreement the village had drafted between them and the Gehl because Gehl was contributing some dollars toward this project and the village would have an agreement for another portion of the project. This had to be done, but the agreements were never reached (by JBJ with Gehl) and it was dragging on. One of the issues was there was some contaminated soil that was being evaluated and addressed on the property where the sewer would go through. So we decided to look at another avenue and that was to design a sanitary sewer in-house that run basically on Main Street all the way down to Division Street.

Ratayczak said Tuesday he believes the Village Board’s decision was a fair one.

“The developer felt they needed some compensation and a majority of the board felt the same,” he said.

When the project was undertaken, none of the design work prepared by JBJ Development was used, but the company thought they should receive compensation for the work they had completed even if the village did not use in the eventual project.

During an earlier committee meeting Village Trustee Art Zabel argued the village should not pay any of the funds sought by JBJ.

Terri Kaminski, village trustee and chair of the Public Works and Highways Committee, said three members of the committee were in favor of paying the company at least some portion of the design fees.

“There is no way I would approve giving them all of the $33,000, but I do believe there is some compromise here we might want to be thinking about because we both kind of have to be flexible,” Kaminski said earlier.

Village Trustee Art Zabel said he did not want the village to pay any of the funds sought by JBJ.

“It makes no sense to me that we should pay those fees. If you look at the developer’s agreement, the fourth one, it says he’s responsible for all costs,” Zabel said. “I agree with the village attorney that the village tried its best to accommodate this developer and we made multiple changes to this agreement and they were all basically made for his benefit, and he basically didn’t follow through and do what he was supposed to do, which was to reach an agreement with Gehl. So the village had to come up with a different plan quickly.”