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City Council votes to keep Myrtle Street right of way

The City Council voted to retain a 30-foot right of way between Alderperson John Hoggatt's house, left, and the home of Dean and Roxann Hanson, right. The right of way extends west from the end of Myrtle Street.

The Hudson City Council has decided to end consideration of a request by property owners to abandon a 30-foot wide city right of way extending from the west end of Myrtle Street to the St. Croix River.

The council voted 4-1 Monday night against introducing a resolution to vacate the property and set a public hearing on the issue for Nov. 21.

The decision came after five nearby property owners and former council member Scot O'Malley spoke against vacating the right of way.

The neighbors were concerned about losing their view of the river if the strip of land between the homes of John and Sarah Hoggatt, 925 First St., and Dean and Roxann Hanson, 1001 First St., was surrended.

The resolution defeated by the council said half the vacated property would go to the Hoggatts and half to the Hansons.

John Hoggatt, who represents District 5 on the City Council, wasn't at the meeting.

"Be it resolved, that since the public interest requires it, the following portion of Myrtle Street in the city of Hudson... is hereby vacated and discontinued," the resolution began.

The opponents of the resolution didn't believe vacating the right of way was in the public interest.

"I have a fear that if the city gives away that last 30 feet, the view (of the river) will go," said Phyllis Jensen. She said she has lived across the street from the right of way for more than 27 years.

Ben Straka, 211 Myrtle St., said being able to see the river "is something that means a lot to our neighborhood."

Josh Bernhard said he bought the house at 926 First St. because it was advertised as offering river views. He said the Hoggatts and Hansons have already planted trees in the right of way.

Tom Smith, 927 Third St., and David Prissel, 1008 First St., also opposed the action.

O'Malley read a letter from another neighborhood resident, Sally Jensen, 1003 Third St., who said she was opposed to the abandonment.

O'Malley said it would be a waste of city money to schedule a hearing and publish notices of it. He said the council had already heard what neighbors of the property thought about the city abandoning it.

The city Plan Commission had voted unanimously to recommend vacating the right of way in spite of a recommendation from Public Works and Parks Director Tom Zeuli and Fire Chief Jim Frye that the city retain the property.

The commission was convinced that the city no longer had a need for the property as a possible storm sewer route, for fire department access to the river or a connection to the city pathway running along the river.

But Zeuli told the City Council that wasn't necessarily true.

Zeuli said storm water drainage is an issue in the downtown, and the city might need the right of way at some point.

Vacating the right of way would also preclude the possibility of ever connecting First Street to the river pathway at that point, he said.

Mayor Alan Burchill noted that there is access to the pathway one block in either direction.

"After you give property away, you never get it back," Alderperson Lee Wyland commented.

Council President Lori Bernard said the Public Works Committee had been unanimous in its opposition to vacating the right of way.

"I guess I don't think it is a prudent move. I don't know what the benefit to the city would be," she said.

Alderperson Mary Yacoub voted to recommend vacating the right of way as a member of the Plan Commission, but said she wouldn't mind delaying the final vote until a downtown storm water study is completed.

Randy Morrissette II was the only alderperson voting who remained in support of vacating the right of way.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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