Sturgeon Bay Mayor Thad Birmingham had another veto overridden by a 6 to 1 vote of the city council Tuesday. A majority of council members voted in February to withdraw the city from appealing a lawsuit with Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront. That decision halted construction of a hotel on property the Friends group argued would have been located on filled lakebed. According to the Wisconsin constitution, filled lakebed must be reserved for public use, not private development.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a ruling in January that delineates where the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) is located on Sturgeon Bay’s west side waterfront. Property below the OHWM must be used for public purposes. Property above the line can be used for private development. That determination has now been appealed by several former members of the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority, among others.
Several council members have argued that the city needs to settle ongoing lawsuits and avoid engaging in litigation in the future.
Kelly Catarozoli called the city appeal of the case with Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront “silly.”
Birmingham said the city insurance carrier supports the appeal.
Council member Barbara Allmann said the ongoing litigation is costing the city too much money and should be settled. Kelly Avenson said she voted for the override of the mayoral veto because she wants the community to heal and move forward.
The only vote in opposition to the veto override was council member David Ward who agreed with Birmingham that it would be in the city’s best interests to continue as a party to the lawsuit.