Liberty Grove Lawsuit Against County, Resort Dismissed

The Town of Liberty Grove suffered a legal setback on Jan. 9 when Circuit Judge D. Todd Ehlers issued a decision in favor of defendants Door County Board of Adjustment (BOA) and Rowleys Bay Resort in the matter of a variance issued by the BOA on April 23, 2013, to accommodate a zip line at the resort.

The resort land in question is owned by two different legal entities – Wagon Trail, Inc. and Wagon Trail Land Company, LLC. The requested variance asked that the county’s minimum lot size ordinance of 20 acres allow for the 14.52 acres the resort had available for the activity, and that the minimum setback of 100 feet be modified to 75 and 85 feet of adjoining Wagon Trail property. The zip line would still be more than 100 feet from all exterior property lines and more than 250 feet from the closest residence.

The town did not object to the zip line, but in the way the BOA granted the petition. It felt the resort owners could combine parcels and then have no need for a variance.

Before the BOA issued the variance, both the Liberty Grove Plan Commission and Town Board held public hearings on the resort’s petition and sent a letter of non-support to the BOA “on the basis that compliance with the zoning ordinance could be achieved by combining parcels, no hardship had been demonstrated, unique property limitations had not been met, and it was not proven there would be no harm to the public interest.”

The suit was filed on May 14, 2013, claiming that the BOA’s decision was legally flawed, and that the decision “was arbitrary, oppressive, and unreasonable, and represented its will rather than its judgment…” and sought a reversal or modification of the BOA’s decision.

Ehlers disagreed with the town’s argument and reaffirmed the BOA’s decision.

“I am not substituting my judgment for that of the BOA,” Ehlers wrote. “My review was limited to whether there was evidence to support the BOA’s decision, and there was.”

“We are really relieved to have this be over with and get back to the business of helping our guests have the time of their lives in Door County. We are also very happy for DC Adventure, our zip line partner, who has added so many great activities to our resort,” said Jewel Peterson Ouradnik, co-owner, Rowleys Bay Resort.

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