By Tim Kowols
The city of Sturgeon Bay will pursue legal counsel for its declaratory ruling to determine the ordinary high water mark for Parcel 92 on the city’s west side. Mayor Thad Birmingham broke the 3-3 gridlock after several citizens voiced their concern for the city spending money they feel it does not have and paying multiple attorneys for a case decided in circuit court just a few months ago. First District alderperson Kelly Catarozoli said the council members are not being good trustees to the land as elected officials if they vote for the special counsel.
District 5 alderperson David Ward disagreed.
Catarozoli also questioned the role lobbyist John Gard might have in helping solve the dispute, but no further information was given during the meeting as it did not pertain to the agenda item. According to the memorandum sent by city administrator Josh Van Lieshout, the city will now hire attorney Paul Kent as a special counsel for the declaratory ruling which will go before the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We have reaction to the announcement from the DNR from the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront posted online with this story.
FROM THE FRIENDS OF THE STURGEON BAY PUBLIC WATERFRONT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront Responds to DNR’s Preliminary OHWM Determination for 92 East Maple Street
“The idea of a waterside hotel is throwback to the 80’s, not economically sound, and is rejected by citizens in Sturgeon Bay. This recent letter from the DNR seems engineered to fit that outmoded proposed hotel location and without any regard to the well documented historical circumstances” said Dan Collins of the Friends. “But it is helpful that the DNR has agreed to follow the normal declaratory ruling process, and it will be a transparent process that includes a DNR-administered public hearing in Sturgeon Bay.”
“The Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront are pleased to learn that the Department of Natural Resources intends to grant their Petition for a Declaratory Ruling to formally determine the location of the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) on 92 East Maple Street”, commented Shawn Fairchild of the Friends. The OHWM delineates the line between uplands and the bed of Lake Michigan at the time of statehood . Because of historic fill at the west waterfront, natural evidence of the OHWM was long ago obliterated, and therefore DNR utilizes maps and other historic documentation to approximate the location of that line. Fairchild continued, “The preliminary OHWM included in DNR’s letter to Mayor Birmingham dated April 14th is drawn at right angles, and shows that DNR’s analysis is not based on natural changes in the shoreline over time. The DNR’s preliminary OHWM is shocking in that it completely contradicts the circuit court’s findings of fact and seems unsupported by any of the historical maps or physical evidence produced at trial, which were the subject of detailed expert testimony and cross-examination. We look forward to the facts found at trial being central to the ultimate determination.”