By Tim Kowols
According to the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront, their action against the city could be solved with a single letter. The group is suing the city over the placement of a proposed west side hotel development, stating it is being partially built on filled in lakebed in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is in charge of determining where the Ordinary High Water Mark (OWHM) is located, which could give more clarity to the case. According to Dan Collins from the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront, only the city can ask for that determination to be made.
Phone calls to the city administrator’s office were not returned Tuesday, but in a recent Letter to the Editor from Sturgeon Bay Mayor Thad Birmingham, the DNR has reviewed the development plan in relation to the OHWM and has not made any objections to it after significant adjustments were made. Birmingham and city administrator Josh VanLieshout were both invited via email to comment. The case could go to trial early next year. You can listen to the full interview with Dan Collins and Laurel Hauser from the Friends group online with this story.