Horn Hollow Road discussion includes potential sale of county property

By Kate Klimesh,

Horn Hollow Road has been a topic at several Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors meetings, with requests to retrace and mark the road, leading to discussion of vacation of portions of the road – seemingly not mapped since stagecoach trails shown on the 1856 county plat. 

The supervisors discussed the issue with County Attorney Andy Van Der Maaten, who originally suggested the road could be considered abandoned due to lack of maintenance over the past decades. 

At the Tuesday, Sept. 5, Board of Supervisors Meeting, Jim Wicka was on the agenda to discuss new information and a new proposal. Wicka is the owner of the historic 1869 Horn House and is completing major renovations for its future as an Airbnb. Wicka originally requested the county formally mark the road and define right of ways in hopes a historic trail could be established near the property with historic markers. Adjacent landowners have also requested vacation of the road by the county.

Wicka referenced an email he recently received from Van Der Maaten stating the road was indeed owned by Winneshiek County outright, deeded as such in the 1860s, and not an easement of prescription as was formerly thought. 

“You don’t abandon a property just by not maintaining it … you own it unless there’s exclusive act that indicates you don’t own that property anymore.” Wicka noted, “I’m a cash buyer; I’d like to maintain that for historical purposes. You’ve got land – three, four, five acres, worth 30, 40,000 to $50,000 dollars – and I’d like to buy it, maybe other landowners would too. This is truly a win, win, win for everyone.”

Wicka asked the board to reconsider vacation of Horn Hollow Road and consider the sale of the property per formal county land sale processes.

Interim Engineer Nick Rissman added, “This is the first I’ve heard it’s not an easement. I feel it would be best to get it back to a landowner, but we need to get with Andy Van Der Maaten first. Whatever you do here, you set precedent.”

The item is on the agenda for the Sept. 11 Board of Supervisors meeting at the Courthouse Annex Building, with the request for both Mike Shimek of the Engineer’s Office and County Attorney Andy Van Der Maaten to attend. Langreck concluded, “It’s easier to try to get this done right than to have to fix a mistake.”

Full story in the September 7 Public Opinion.

Submit A Comment

Fill out the form to submit a comment. All comments require approval by our staff before it is displayed on the website.

Notify of
0 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments