officials say there is no evidence that the buried gas
tanks at the Clark Station on Washington Street are
News Graphic file photo
GRAFTON — If the
owners of the abandoned Clark Station on Washington Street don’t
close out the underground gasoline tanks they left behind, the state
will do it for them.
Station at 1020 Washington St. closed around May 2016; after that,
the property was left unmaintained and fell into disrepair.
At a hearing in
February, Village Inspector Tom Johnson said that an investigation
of the property began in mid-November 2016, leading to the hearing
and conclusion that it was a public nuisance.
The owner of
record, Lakeland Real Estate Investment in Franklin was notified of
the hearing and given until mid-March to clean up the property
afterward. When no action was taken, village staff cleaned up the
property, but not the interior of the gas station, which they did
not have access to. The village also did not have authority to deal
with the underground gasoline tanks, which were referred to the
state Department of Justice.
the state Department of Justice was looking to take action, we
wanted to see what happened,” Village Administrator Jesse Thyes
Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams issued a default
judgment in favor of the Department of Justice, which was
represented by Assistant Attorney General Bradley Mortl.
According to the
order for default judgment, Lakeland was given notice by personal
service Aug. 7, failed to answer or respond to the state’s complaint
and violated state regulations and an order from the Department of
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to deal with the three
underground gas tanks.
According to the
judgment and order, Lakeland must permanently close the three tanks
in accordance with state requirements within 60 days of the
judgment, placing the deadline on Jan. 8, 2018, and pay $25,540.20
in forfeitures and penalties. If Lakeland does not close the tanks
in 60 days, the order gives the Department of Natural Resources or
other appropriate agency authority to close the tanks and place a
lien on the property for the cost of the closing.
The order only
addresses the underground gasoline tanks, though that being
addressed could open the way for other developments with the
property. In discussions over the past year, village staff commented
several times that redeveloping the property is problematic because
of the tanks.
abandoned property could have been foreclosed on, staff said no one,
even the bank, wanted to claim the property with the potentially
expensive environmental problem of the gas tanks unresolved.
“In no uncertain
terms, we (the village) did not want to inherit any environmental
issues with the property,” Thyes said.
Thyes said the
village did not have any action currently planned, but the property
and the state’s progress dealing with the tanks will be monitored
<<EARLIER: Deadline passed for owner, Grafton officials forced to
clean up gas station