The battle over Sturgeon Bay’s west waterfront took a new turn Aug. 1. The Common Council voted to approve the settlement agreement reached between the city’s negotiating committee and the Friends of Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront (FSBPW) concerning the location of the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) on the west waterfront.
The decision comes after the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority, which was also named in the lawsuit brought by the FSBPW, voted against the settlement July 26.
In June, the city’s ad hoc negotiating committee and FSBPW met for two days to resolve the lawsuit. That resulted in an agreement to jointly recommend to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that it approve an ordinary high water mark parallel to and 60 feet waterward of the original meander line in the U.S. government land survey of 1835 for parcel 92 next to the Door County Maritime Museum.
Both the WRA and Common Council need to agree to the settlement for it to be submitted for official approval by the DNR, so it’s unclear if the council’s decision will inch the city closer to resolving the impasse.
The DNR will hold a declaratory hearing to determine the Ordinary High Water Mark on Sturgeon Bay’s west waterfront Sept. 6. The hearing will be held at 3 pm, but the location is to be determined.
The settlement passed in a 4 – 3 vote after the council deliberated in closed session for about 40 minutes. Alderpersons Kelly Catarozoli, Laurel Hauser, Barbara Allmann and David Ward voted in favor. Aldermen Richard Wiesner, Stewart Fett, and Ron Vandertie voted against the settlement.
Before convening in closed session, Catarozoli pleaded with the counsel to stay in open session to discuss the settlement.
“Nothing we’ve discussed is information that the city’s attorneys and the plaintiff’s attorneys are not privy to,” Catarozoli said. “The only people we’re keeping information from is the public.”
Her motion to remain in open session fell in a 4-3 vote, with Allmann and Hauser supporting the motion.