By Roger Utnehmer
Updates from the courtroom will be posted here as they become available and posted on the DoorCountyDailyNews.com Web site, Facebook, and Twitter.
The expert witness testifying on behalf of the Friends group just stated that “There is no uncertainty, even from the report from the city’s consultant, that this is fill down to 13 feet across the entire site.” She was referring to the proposed location of a hotel.
The geologist testifying on behalf of the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront just stated that there are chemical contaminants on the property of the proposed west side hotel. Lauri Huntoon just told the court soil borings not only include cinders, glass, wood, sand and gravel but also chemical contaminants. Huntoon has been on the witness stand for more than an hour. She is now being cross-examined by attorney Remzy Bitar who is representing the city of Sturgeon Bay.
Laurie Huntoon just testified that soil borings done by the City of Sturgeon Bay consulting firm Ayers and Associates show that up to 10.5 feet of fill was placed under the site of the proposed hotel. Borings indicate that sand, gravel, silt and wood were discovered when the soil borings were conducted on behalf of the City of Sturgeon Bay.
In addition to Mayor Thad Birmingham, city attorney Randy Nesbitt, Council Members Jerry Stults and Kelly Catarozoli, Administrator Josh Van Lieshout, Planner and Zoning Administrator Ryan Kernosky and Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak are sitting in on the trial. Olejniczak is expected to be called as a witness either later today or tomorrow.
Council candidates Joe McMahon and Laurel Hauser are also attending. Geologist Lauri Huntoon is continuing to testify as a witness called by the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront. Several of the plaintiffs are sitting in the front row of the spectator section of the courtroom together. The crowd has fluctuated from close to fifty observers at the start of the trial earlier this morning to approximately twenty-five as of 3:15PM.
The trial is scheduled to conclude tomorrow afternoon.
Geologist Laurie Huntoon just testified that the two proposed lots for the Lindgren Hotel are located entirely on land that was filled above lake sediment. She is a geologist with more than 25 years of professional experience and is testifying on behalf of the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront.
During a break in the proceedings former Sturgeon Bay City Council Member Barbara Allman told DoorCountyDailyNews.com she is running as a write-in candidate for the council seat she represented several years ago.
Several other write-in candidates are expected to come forward in the days ahead, according to members of the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront.
DoorCountyDailyNews.com will invite both a representative from the Friends group and Mayor Thad Birmingham, who is attending the trial, to join a discussion about their views on how the case is proceeding during the morning show on WRLU 104.1FM tomorrow. Mayor Birmingham told DoorCountyDailyNews.com he’s “thinking about” accepting the offer.
Nancy Aten has just concluded her testimony on behalf of the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront. She confirmed the validity of several newspaper articles, maps and a book being entered as evidence that would support the case being made by the Friends group that the location of the proposed Lindgren Hotel is filled lakebed. Aten was asked by the attorney for the city of Sturgeon Bay if she was related to a plaintiff. She stated she is married to Dan Collins. She was also asked if she has contributed financially to Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront and how much that contribution was. Over the objection of the Friends attorney, Judge Huber ruled that Aten must answer the question. She stated that her personal contribution was approximately $20,000.
The trial is recessed for a ten-minute break.
Former Department of Natural Resources staff member Heidi Kennedy just completed nearly an hour of testimony.
Kennedy testified about how the DNR determines the ordinary high water mark for the properties involved in this litigation.
She was responsible for drafting an opinion about what parcels in the area of the proposed hotel development were filled lakebed and where the ordinary high water mark is located.
Nancy Aten has now taken the stand and is also testifying about the authenticity of maps used by Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront.
The trial has adjourned until 1 p.m. after the attorney for the city of Sturgeon Bay cross-examined the first witness for the Friends group.
During earlier testimony, the Friends introduced an exhibit showing a 1925 Army Corp of Engineers map depicting approximately two feet of water at the site of the proposed hotel. If the validity of that map is affirmed, it would support the claim of Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront that the hotel is being proposed on land that was once lakebed.
The trial will resume this afternoon with a former Department of Natural Resources employee testifying as a witness for the Friends.
Chains of title, mortgages and maps dominated testimony from the first witness called in this morning’s trial in the case of Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront versus the City of Sturgeon Bay.
Surveyor Donald Chaput started testifying just before 10 a.m. and is still being questioned by Friends attorney Mary Beth Peranteau. Fourteen exhibits have been introduced since the start of the trial earlier this morning. Most deal with maps dating back as far as 1891, mortgage documents and extensive chains of title to the property located on Sturgeon Bay’s west side waterfront.
The lawsuit brought by Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront against the City of Sturgeon Bay got underway in Door County Circuit Court this morning with social media technology creating the first request for streaming of the proceedings. Christie Weber, a plaintiff in the case, asked Judge Raymond Huber for permission to stream the court proceedings on Facebook. Attorneys did not object but did express concern about the impact watching the case might have on potential witnesses. Weber withdrew her request before the judge ruled. A group of fifty citizens watched the case get underway at about 9:40AM. The first witness called by the Friends group is Donald Chaput, a land surveyor, who is testifying now about aerial photos of the Sturgeon Bay waterfront. He was asked by the plaintiff to overlay photos of the waterfront onto maps in order to determine the location of the overall high water mark. The case hinges on whether a proposed hotel development is located on land that had been lakebed in the past. The state constitution prohibits the use of former lakebed for private purposes. The trail is scheduled to conclude tomorrow.