By Roger Utnehmer
Two members of the Sturgeon Bay City Council are calling for a special meeting to vote on resolving the long-simmering west side waterfront development dispute.
The city lost a lawsuit earlier this year when Judge Raymond Huber ruled the city could not sell land on the waterfront to developer Robert Papke until an ordinary high water mark was determined on the site.
Papke has since withdrawn from the project and filed a claim with the city asking for more than $500,000 plus legal fees.
Council Members David Ward and Laurel Hauser recently negotiated a settlement with the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront, the group that brought the suit, but it has been tabled by the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority and not considered by the common council.
Allman says Mayor Thad Birmingham is “stonewalling.”
She says Birmingham appears to prefer the state legislature determining the ordinary high water mark through legislation than by approving the settlement negotiated by locally elected officials. She fears Birmingham will have sympathetic legislators secretly slip the ordinary high water mark language into the state budget.
Allman says this could have been settled a long time ago if Birmingham would have allowed the council to vote on the negotiated settlement.
“It’s time to get this behind us and unite the community, remove the dirt piles and get the people of Sturgeon Bay moving forward together,” Allman said.
By getting the council on record in support of the compromise solution negotiated between the city and Friends group, she thinks the legislature would have a more difficult time justifying legislative language that would negate the will of local officials.
She also supports the abolition of the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority. “Locally-elected officials, not appointees of the mayor, should be making these decisions,” she said.