The Buzz: The bar fight between Bee Hive Inn in Vinland and Wisconsin DOT – Appleton Post Crescent
Published 3:21 PM EST Feb 8, 2019
The Bee Hive Inn and Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation are in tiff that’s causing a swarm of comments on social media.
The small bar and grill at the corner of State 76 and County G in Vinland, five minutes west of Neenah, is in the path of a future roundabout. It faces a March 1 deadline to vacate its property.
But its relocation site, which is being built next door at a cost of more than $600,000, won’t be ready until May because of weather delays.
Bee Hive owner Angie Dorton is madder than a hornet about the DOT’s refusal to give her more time to move and has taken to Facebook to publicly plead for an extension.
“That’s during Lent, our busiest time,” she said. “We do 200 fish fries on a Friday night.”
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Being down for three months means she’ll lose up to $70,000 in revenue, and her employees will lose income.
“I do not want my employees to have to find other jobs, and I do not want my customers to have to find a new bar stool,” she said.
The DOT, meanwhile, says it followed normal protocol.
“We first spoke with the property owner in March of 2014 and discussed design plans for the roundabout,” said spokesman Mark Kantola.
The March 1 deadline can’t be moved for the $10 million-$12 million State 76 reconstruction project that begins in April 2020, he said.
“That’s our timeline. There are nine utilities in that process. They could not move their work out any later. There’s a domino effect,” he said. “We have asbestos testing and removal. Then there’s the big thing — the Bee Hive has to be razed.”
Dorton said she wasn’t given an official notice until spring 2017 and a first offer on June 2, 2017. She rejected it as too low and under the appraised value, and the DOT upped its offer.
“They had over a year to give me a decent offer and let me build starting last summer. I feel like I was put on the back burner,” she said.
She received a check for $167,000 in December, and is waiting for $113,000 more for relocation costs.
Meanwhile, Dorton knows time is ticking on the bar that she’s owned for the last 23 years and wishes things had gone differently.
“I would be happy to be in my little dive bar for the next 15 years,” she said. “It’s paid for. Now, I’m starting all over again.”
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