By Nancy Aten
The City of Sturgeon Bay’s recently proposed Premiere Economic Development District (PEDD) on the west side has a few issues related to the Public Trust Doctrine that ought to be addressed before proceeding. It seems prudent to include the property landward of the Maritime Museum within a PEDD – the area proposed by the hotel developer as an alternate hotel location in August of this year, and the area that is part of a resolution proposal from Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront to the City in early September. (Despite recent press saying the City wants to continue using this particular area for surface parking… removing it from development opportunity forever does not seem prudent. The Friends’ proposal has always included parking within the conservation easement zone). There is mediation scheduled this month for the lawsuit and also pending rulings early in 2017; why would the City rush to take this compromise location off the table?
It also seems prudent to have property owners within the proposed district properly request an Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) determination so that future development or redevelopment is lawful and protects fair economic opportunity. Areas below the OHWM should not be included in the PEDD.
In the City’s description of the PEDD alternatives, the OHWM is mentioned. Clarification is needed. The distance between the Michigan Street bridge and the Oregon Street bridge is roughly 750 feet. There exists a recorded WDNR Ordinary High Water Mark ‘Concurrence’ for only about 15% of that distance – a segment near the Oregon Street bridge. There is no WDNR OHWM determination for the rest of that distance. For the City to continue to claim otherwise, doesn’t make it so. (A good portion of that remaining distance was the historical dock containing the Teweles & Brandeis granary and its rail spur and warehouses, and also a historical dock near the Michigan street bridge. Large old docks built in support of shipping are filled lakebed protected in the constitution for the Public Trust).
The Public Trust Doctrine is, in my opinion, a protector of strong long-term economic development, and other waterfront towns in the county and state have taken advantage of this. It broadens the economic advantage of public waterfront for all adjacent development.
I request that the City consider the above adjustments to the PEDD proposal.
Friends of Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront