Judge Rules in Sister Bay’s Favor in Marina Landing Suit

The Village of Sister Bay did not err in denying Gage Meyer a conditional use permit for a condominium development in 2007, according to a judgment reached by Door County Judge Peter Diltz May 20.

Gage Meyer’s proposal for a condominium and retail development across from the Sister Bay Marina in 2006 generated tremendous controversy. Meyer scaled the plan back from 47 units to 34 at the village’s request, but it wasn’t enough to earn approval.

Meyer filed suit Feb. 8, 2007, charging that the village had misinterpreted its ordinance governing conditional use permits when it denied him a permit Jan. 9 of that year. He sued for the right to proceed with the project. Meyer said he did not want to comment on the decision until he had time to review it and consider his next steps.

In his original complaint, Meyer’s attorney pointed to the ordinance, which states, “Conditional uses will be reviewed to see if they are in accordance with the purpose and intent of the (sic) chapter and is found to be not hazardous, harmful, offensive or otherwise adverse to the environment of the value of the neighborhood or the Village.

Meyer argued that the series of revisions made to the project met the wishes of the planning commission and were “in accordance and compliance with the zoning code provisions.” Meyer also alleged that Village President Denise Bhirdo had inappropriately influenced the board’s decision.

Bhirdo owns the gas station adjacent to the proposed development and recused herself from the discussion as a board member. She did voice comments as a citizen during the process, however. Bhirdo was relieved by the decision.

“It’s just dragged on so long and hung like a black cloud over the village,” she said.

In the years since the suit was originally filed, Meyer and the village attempted to negotiate a settlement, but those efforts were not successful.

Meyer’s Marina Landing proposal was a 73,823 square foot project that includes 34 condominium units and retail units.

Meyer owns Gage Inc., a fine gifts store located across Highway 42 from Sister Bay’s public marina. The Marina Landing project would replace three existing buildings, the former On Deck Clothing store that is now vacant, the Gage store, and Kellstrom-Ray Agency.

It was one of three major development projects that stalled in the fall of 2006. The Centre at Sister Bay was slated to replace the Walkway Shops, but developers failed to attract tenants and the project never got off the ground. The Walkway Shops were demolished this spring.

The owners of Helm’s Four Seasons had planned to redevelop the property into Helm’s Harbor Shoals, a hotel/ condominium and marina project, but that project also stalled before its owners reached an agreement to sell the property to the village in 2007. The hotel was torn down to expand the village’s Waterfront Park.