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Vilas Co. Judge Returns Lake Property To Owner

Wikimedia Commons The Catalyst31

Properties valued at $1,306,500 that include frontage on Armour and Horsehead lakes, obtained by Vilas County through tax delinquency foreclosure, were ordered returned to the former owner after a hearing in Vilas County circuit court last Thrusday when Judge Neal Nielsen, III ruled the county Forestry & Land Committee did not follow its own written policy when they received a request to redeem the lands in Presque Isle.

The lands, owned by 90 year old Harvey Bartsch, Jr. of Madison, failed to pay property taxes from 2013 to 2017 and were foreclosed by the county. However, Bartsch requested to redeem his lands within the 30 day window under an adopted policy, but was denied.

Attorney for Bartsch, Randy Frojker, said the denial was on the basis of the condiiton on the property as described by county forest administrator John Gagnon  as having many abandonded vehicles, boats, trailers, metal trash, and barrels containing an unknown liquid. Asked if other tax foreclosed lands were denied being returned, Gagnon  said “not under this policy.”

Judge Nielsen said the adopted county policy was not followed and ruled the properties could be redeemed if payment is made of all back taxes, interest, penalties, and forest department costs by 4:00 pm last Friday.

County treasurer Jerri Radtke said payment was received on time in the amount of $113,749.10 of which $60,938.85 were for unpaid taxes and $52,810.25 for forestry department clean-up efforts. It is anticipated a petition to the court will be made to vacate the foreclosure action after which the county would provide a quit claim deed to Bartsch.

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