Q. Why is a lawsuit necessary?
A. The City and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) have been ambivalent to the careful presentation of incontrovertible facts showing that the public has perpetual rights to the land the City currently intends to sell for the Lindgren Hotel. These facts have been clearly brought forward in letters produced by Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA).
Q. There has been commercial development on this land for a long time; why is development a problem now?
A. The City has recently reclaimed ownership of this public filled lakebed land. Filled lakebed land is the people’s land therefore uses in the past were wrongly permitted. Getting a chance to fix a mistake is a good thing. We get a “do over” on this one, and it’s okay for us to insist that it is done correctly this time.
Q. What about past waterfront developments?
A. While some other waterfront projects might not have been the best decisions from a Public Trust Doctrine perspective, we are not proposing in any way that prior decisions be undone--but they don’t have to be repeated. The Maritime Museum is there for public benefit and could be an appropriate example of the kinds of facilities that benefit the public and are in keeping with the accepted uses below the Ordinary High Water Mark. The same could be said for the Coast Guard Station, or the WDNR facility.
Q. Who is being sued?
A. The City is the current landowner, so they are being sued.
Q. How will the donated funds be allocated?
A. Donated funds will only be used to fund the fees of attorney and direct legal expenses. All checks written to the attorneys will be signed by two people.
Q. Is the donation tax-deductible? A. No.
Q. What is the suit hoping to achieve?
A. Plaintiffs filed this action seeking to prevent the City of Sturgeon Bay from selling public lands for a private development. The City’s effort to convey public trust property to a private party for commercial use is unconstitutional under the public trust doctrine of the Wisconsin Constitution.
Q. Will there be any accounting or controls?
A. A ledger showing all checks written and all account expenditure activity will be provided to each donor upon request.
Q. What will happen to unused funds?
A. All donors will receive prorated refunds with the closing statement.
Q. Who will administer the funds?
A. The funds will be administered by Kathleen Finnerty and Dan Collins.
Q. Will my donation be confidential?
A. All donations will be confidential. It is helpful if donors voluntarily permit us to use their names so everyone can see the breadth of support.
Q. Who are the attorneys in this case?
A. The attorneys are the water law experts at the Wheeler Law Office (Wheeler, Van Sickle & Anderson S.C.) in Madison.
Q. The City claims to have insurance for being sued; will that help them?
A. The title insurance company has the full legal right to drop their insurance as a result of the City’s misstatements. The City’s title insurance underwriter has a well-documented history of dropping coverage of their insured here in Door County, and when challenged in courts the underwriter contested their obligations all the way to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
Q. Who is the plaintiff?
A. Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront, Shawn M. Fairchild, Carri Andersson, Linda Cockburn, Russ Cockburn, Kathleen Finnerty and Christie Weber.