Mitchell contractor proposes builders receive landfill fee waivers for housing redevelopment projects

“It would simply help with the cost of tearing down these homes,” Mike Bathke said of waiving landfill fees for developers who are tearing down a corroding home to build a new housing unit.

A Mitchell home gets demolished in 2020 to clear the way for a new home to be built on the lot.
Mitchell Republic file photo

MITCHELL — A Mitchell housing organization was approved to receive $28,317 in funds on Monday to help put up its next affordable home on a lot.

A sizable amount of those funds will cover the landfill dumping fees that Mitchell Area Housing Incorporated (MAHI) faces when the organization hauls the material from a home demolition project.

As a local contractor who performs similar work by razing dilapidated homes to clear the way for building anew, Mike Bathke recommended the Mitchell City Council consider waiving dumping fees for all developers taking on projects like MAHI does.

“I personally did this myself last year at almost double the money on what they spent. Now I’m going to build a $400,000 structure. I think a small solution to what I feel is a problem, which would help them (MAHI) and other people, is if you would start waiving dump fees,” Bathke said.

At the lot Bathke purchased to redevelop into a housing unit, he said the costs of clearing the property combined with the landfill dumping fees amounted to roughly $53,000. (Bathke is also a candidate for a Mitchell City Council seat in Ward 3 on the June 6 ballot.)


“It would simply help with the cost of tearing down these homes,” Bathke said of waiving landfill fees.

As part of MAHI’s mission, the organization seeks out corroding vacated houses in Mitchell and tears them down to build new affordable homes. The material left from home demolitions are then hauled to the landfill where a dumping fee is charged.

Terry Sabers, president of MAHI, explained the city funds are vital for the organization to keep costs of the homes that are put up at a low price for the target income earners it hopes to attract.

“In order to sell the houses in those neighborhoods, we have to reduce that price as low as we can. Every dollar in reimbursement we get will reduce the cost of those homes,” Sabers said. “This whole thing has gone so long, it’s going to be a team effort to bring this back. We’re going to call on organizations to get involved, so that we can clean up the (city's) core and provide more lower-income housing.”

During the citizens’ input portion of the council meeting, Sabers explained how his role with the organization has provided him with an understanding of the challenges developers face. He urged the council to not put “any undue regulations” on developers.

“They are shouldering many risks right now, including initial cost of infrastructure and the carrying costs,” Sabers said.

Since MAHI began its work over the past year, the organization has sold one home it had built on a Mitchell lot. Sabers said there is another home that’s listed for sale.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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