SHELDON—Councilman Shawn Broesder does not want to see a Hatfield and McCoy scenario play out over a parcel of land in a Sheldon residential area.
Broesder made the remark at the Wednesday, June 17, city council meeting as officials considered a request from Jim and Gayla Clark to continue renting and maintaining a city-owned parcel of land at 10th Avenue and Pine Street.
The council eventually approved renewing the agreement with the Clarks in a 4-1 vote with councilman Brad Hindt, who conducted the meeting due to mayor Greg Geels’ absence, casting the dissenting vote after lengthy discussion.
The Clarks have rented the parcel, which is adjacent to their home at 1001 Pine St., for four years and their lease was up for renewal; however, Derwin Van Drie of Sheldon expressed his opposition to the deal.
Van Drie, who was not at the meeting, previously explained to Sheldon city manager Sam Kooiker he has maintained the west half of the Pine Street property for years and said a lease with the Clarks would prevent him from conducting maintenance on his mother’s home.
The city-owned parcel lies directly between Van Drie’s mother’s home and the Clarks’ home.
Kooiker provided the city council with four options:
- Move forward on a lease with the Clarks.
- Amend the lease to give access to Van Drie.
- Give both parties leases.
- Have the city maintain the property.
“The best solution is to split the lease and it shouldn’t be a whole lot more legal work to split the lease; we already got the current lease,” Kooiker said.
After a prompt from councilman Tom Eggers, Sheldon public works director Todd Uhl noted if the city were to take over maintenance of the parcel, it would not be mowed as often as it is under the Clarks’ supervision and would not take much more work for his staff.
“It would add less than a half-hour to the route,” Uhl said.
Jim Clark was not as supportive of splitting the lease or of allowing just the city to maintain the property. He noted he takes pride in the upkeep of his yard and he practices the same standards on the city parcel.
“I have no issue mowing it — I like having my garden there — it’s just an area for the dogs to run,” Clark said. “I take care of it because if that property looks good, then mine looks good and I’m all about keeping my property looking as good as I can.
“That’s the whole issue there; my issue is, as far as splitting the lease, I have concerns on the way they take care of their property — the weeds, the grass — that would be my only concern.”
Jennifer Anderson, who lives across the street from the city-owned parcel, spoke in support of allowing the Clarks to keep their lease.
“Jim and Gayla keep it wonderful looking and that property is where I have to look out of my window every day and my fear is that if we move it to splitting it — knowing how they take care of the property it’s not going to look well; it’s going to make our neighborhood look way worse than it should,” Anderson said referring to the Clarks and Van Dries, respectively.
Councilman Wayne Barahona proposed splitting the lease in half; however, Broesder later challenged that idea and noted the council should make a decision during the meeting rather than delaying action.
“My worry is that if we split it, we are going to have a Hatfield and McCoy situation where Sam is taking too many phone calls from one side or the other complaining,” Broesder said.
“Shawn, I think we are already there,” Barahona quipped.
Broesder followed up by noting these kinds of disputes are waste of Kooiker’s time.
“Here is my concern: We brought in Sam 18 months ago to help better this city and we got him doing small, piddly stuff like leases, looking at lawns or chickens,” Broesder said.
“I got bigger and better plans for Sam to help move this city along and I don’t think he needs to waste any more time on this lease.”
The lease between the Clarks is for three years and is nontransferable. Additionally, either party can opt-out after 90 days.
There have been offers to purchase the parcel; however, the city wants to hold on to it for potential development.