Sturgeon Bay Waterfront Authority Tables Vote on Settlement Proposal

The Sturgeon Bay Waterfront Redevelopment Authority (WRA) tabled its vote on the settlement proposal reached between the city and Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront.

After meeting in closed session Monday, the WRA decided it did not have enough information to vote, further delaying a resolution to the long-running dispute over the development of land on the city’s west side waterfront.

The Friends group and the city’s ad hoc negotiating committee met for two days in a mediation session in June. That resulted in a settlement to jointly recommend to the Department of Natural Resources that it approve an Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) parallel to and 60 feet waterward of the original meander line according to the U.S. government land survey of 1835 at 100 East Maple.

“The motion was made to table the vote until we get more information about what uses might be permitted on the parcel beyond the high water mark agreed upon in the settlement,” said WRA member David Ward, who represented the city in the negotiations with the Friends group in June.

Ward said the WRA will also confer with attorney Paul Kent, an expert in water law, before making a decision.

The Common Council will take up the settlement at its July 18 meeting. If the council approves the settlement, it would still require the WRA’s approval since it owns the parcel.

According to the Public Trust Doctrine, anything built beyond the ordinary high water mark must have a maritime or public use, but the WRA is unclear on what that might mean for a developer of the parcel.

The decision to table the vote likely means that the Aug. 3 Department of Natural Resources Declaratory Hearing will likely be held as scheduled.

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