Egg Harbor Repeals Law that Prompted Library Lawsuit

Four days after Door County Circuit Court Judge D. Todd Ehlers issued an injunction against the Village of Egg Harbor that prevents the village from spending any more than $1 million of village funds on construction for the new library/community center, the village board voted to completely remove from their books the 2008 ordinance that prompted the lawsuit.

The 2008 referendum prevented the village from spending $1 million or more on a capital project without approval from residents via referendum.

A group of five full- and part-time village residents calling themselves Village of Egg Harbor Planned Growth Alliance LLC tried to halt construction of the $5 million library, alleging the village violated the 2008 ordinance in January when it approved a contract with the Boldt Co. for construction of the library and resolving in November 2016 to spend up to $2 million of village funds on the project.

At the Monday, March 13, meeting, several village trustees said they thought the ordinance died in 2010, two years after it went on the books.

“We had no idea this was on the books,” said Trustee Lisa VanLaanen, a thought reiterated by trustees John Heller, Paula Cashin and Village President Joe Smith.

Smith moved to repeal the ordinance and was seconded by Cashin. Heller was the only trustee to vote against repeal. Trustee Bob Dickson pointed out that voters will have an opportunity on April 4 to vote for another spending-limit referendum, although this time the limit will be placed at $1.5 million.

Village Administrator Ryan Heise took to task a comment one of the Village of Egg Harbor Planned Growth Alliance plaintiffs, Bob Doneff, made in a March 10 Pulse story in which he said the cost of the library and its maintenance could amount to a 30 percent increase in village taxes for 20 years. Heise wondered where he came up with those figures. He said the village is only borrowing for 10 years, and the average percentage increase during that time will be 2.29 percent “not 30 percent,” and the average percentage of debt service for the project is 1.64 percent.

Although the plaintiffs wanted him to, Judge Ehlers refused to stop work on the library project, which began last month. The parties will return to Ehlers’ courtroom on May 2.

In other matters, the village:

  • Met Eric and Tami McLear, owners of Serendipity, a restaurant going into the former Trio restaurant in the village. They said they plan to be open year-round. Eric is trained in classical French cooking, so he said you can expect a lot of sauces from him. You can check out the menu here:
  • Heard from Margaret Boshek, a project manager with SmithGroup JJR, the engineering and planning firm the village is working with on village beach improvements. The work is being done in two phases, with the first phase, adding sand from a Door County quarry from the waterline to 20 feet out, at a cost of $22,000, and Phase 2 will be an $80,000 beach expansion that includes taking out a seawall. A $32,000 grant that becomes available in July will be used for phase 2, and Heise said there may be more grant opportunities out there to help pay for the project.
  • Approved a new location for the second Door County Wine Fest. Because of complaints from business owners whose customers would not have access at a peak time of the season during the June wine fest, the village last month refused to ask the DOT to close down a section of Hwy. 42 for the wine fest, as they did last year. So they asked the organizers, the Egg Harbor Business Association, to come up with some options. The organization came up with four options, but the village board went with a hybrid of their own design that will shut down Orchard Street for the fest. Harbor View Park will also be used.
  • Heard and approved a proposal from Shane Solomon of the Door Disc Golf Club. Solomon gave a presentation on disc golf and how he has been going to other communities to find support for disc golf courses to attract disc golfers to the county. Solomon said Sister Bay is already in, and he has spoken with Baileys Harbor and Jacksonport. He suggested not a full course for the village, but a pitch and putt short course with three to five baskets at Village View Park, next to the ball field. Solomon said his organization would pay for the course, which he estimated at $2,025, but said if the village wanted to donate, that would be appreciated. There were questions about insurance liability that were satisfactorily answered, and the plan was approved.
  • Awarded $20,000 to the Public Arts Initiative (PAI) of Egg Harbor for its Celebrate! Wisconsin Sculptors proposal. PAI sent out a call to sculptors that ends March 31. Artists will be selected and notified by April 18, and artwork installation will take place May 22-25.
  • Adopted a social media policy that will allow the village to communicate through social media. The village had been advised against using social media due to the inability to archive information for recordkeeping compliance. The village decided to hire Archive Social at $2,388 annually for record retention on up to 10 social media accounts.
  • Discussed extending the village sidewalk on County G to the beginning of the trail that leads to the bird lookout. The east side option would require the purchase of a small portion of Shipwrecked’s patio, which would require a $2,250 appraisal to determine the cost of removing three or so patio tables from Shipwrecked’s earnings. The board voted against getting the appraisal, so the sidewalk may be destined for the west side.
  • Heard from Kathy Navis, who sits on a newly formed Egg Harbor Business Association committee that has been looking into developing a farmers market in the village. She said there is consensus to hold the market from 8 am to noon on Fridays at the Lena’s property. She said it would be 70 percent farm products and 30 percent crafts, and that all vendors would be Door County residents with products made or grown here. Vendors would be charged a flat rate of $250 per season, from Memorial Day weekend to the Friday before Pumpkin Patch. She said they hope to have 10 booths this first year, but the space can accommodate up to 24 booths. The village will maintain the property while the EHBA will pay for a permit for signage, the signage itself, advertising and a porta potty.
  • Approved a bike share plan. The village will buy 14 seven-speed bicycles with baskets from NorDoor Cyclery, and they will be placed at two bike rack locations – one at the marina and one at a central downtown location. Total cost is estimated at $7,696. Businesses will be encouraged to sponsor bikes for $250, with the sponsoring business listed on the bicycle’s license plate, which, with 14 sponsors, could contribute $3,500 to the cost.
  • Approved a new ordinance recommended by the Plan Commission regarding recreational vehicle parking and storage.
  • Heard a report from Trustee Heller on the newly formed Bird City Committee, which he chairs. At their inaugural meeting they discussed doing a bird survey in the village bird viewing area, removing invasive species from the area and planting things that will attract birds, moving the purple martin houses from the marina to the beach, and building some bat habitats.

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