An online journal documenting the planning and building process of our modern home from start to finish. It is intended to share our experiences throughout this project with all those interested in modern design.

the DNR couldn’t wait

Hi everyone. I have been remiss in maintaining our blog. After the December Board of Appeals hearing, I was pretty upset and had a hard time getting going again on the project planning. In some respects, it seemed hopeless and hard to deal with being so far away. I’ve spent some time today in updating the blog to fill in the blanks on what has happened since December. Hopefully, the project can get some traction now and make forward progress.

Over the last month, I have been working with the attorney to respond to the DNR to address their concerns with the building project. We were just about to approach them to go over the issues.

While driving around today, I noticed a new e-mail that popped up on my iPhone. It was a message from my sister, Karen. She had sent a .pdf of a letter that the DNR sent to the Village and our family regarding the mill wall failure. We (our family and the Village) have been informed that the DNR has been notified of the mill wall failure, has inspected the situation, and wants to know what we are going to do to rectify the situation. So, we will be getting back to the DNR next week, with the information we have already prepared. Hopefully, we can work cooperatively with the Village to respond. We have a simple solution – allow the building project and all the problems are solved! Stay tuned;-)

The Building Couldn’t Wait

So, my Dad called today. He left a voice mail message. He never hardly calls, and if he does, he doesn't leave voice mail messages. Not only is this a rarity, the message was 1 minute, 46 seconds long! When I saw that, I knew something was strange…I listened to his message to find that a portion of the south wall of the mill building had fallen into the creek. Granted, it was old, but since the Village was working on the Oakwood Lake drawdown project (see post on date), the “plug” on the dam has been pulled. There is (was) a tree growing out of the side of the mill building for a number of years now. The three foot diameter pipe that serves as the “plug” has been directing water directly at the side of the mill building and the tree since it was opened in January 2007. I think the vibration of the water for over the last year has finally helped the portion of the building just above where the tree is fail. We have talked to the Village President and let him know we will put up a new block wall inside of the existing block wall as soon as possible.

Let Me Run That by my Attorney…

So I finally did it. I never thought in my life I would have a real need to ever hire an attorney, but I do now! In addition to researching the Wisconsin State regulations to learn them for myself, I searched the internet for hours (from California) and asked for references from anyone I could think of to find an attorney in Wisconsin that specializes in land use, zoning, and municipal law. I figured if we were going to spend the money, we might as well go big and hire the best firm we could find. After talking to a few of the best around, we landed on a team of three attorneys from DeWitt, Ross, and Stevens. They came recommended by the architect we like.

After talking with them, they confirmed what I was afraid of – if a judge heard the case, we would more than likely win, but all that would come of it is the judge ordering another hearing on the same issues, with the same Board of Appeals. The BOA members would still not be able to read a map or understand their Ordinances. If heard a second time, the BOA would have an attorney on hand, actually hold the meeting correctly, and come up with “valid” reasons for denying the variations. Unfortunately, we would be out a lot of cash and be right back were we started. The attorneys we hired had an alternative proposed game plan that we work with the DNR first, then go to the Village (if the DNR can work out an acceptable project with us). That sounded good to us, so we signed the agreement and sent in the retainer today.

official denial

Today, the BOA finalized their official denial letter. During the December 18th appeal hearing, the BOA was advised they could consult with an attorney prior to making their decision, but they elected not to do so and made their decision right then, during the meeting. It is interesting that many of the reasons cited in the denial were not brought up in the appeal hearing. I was wondering how an attorney hired after the fact could come up with valid reasons for denial if they weren’t brought up at the meeting.

In accordance with the Village Ordinance, the decision was to be filed immediately. The BOA elected to hold off on the official denial until they got it done with the attorney. The Ordinance states we would have 30 days from the decision to file an appeal with a Court of Record, if we believed the decision was not in order, but the Clerk said we would have 30 days from the date of the official denial to move forward with an appeal to a Court of Record. I’m sure that we would win, if a judge heard the case, and are gathering information to take the next step.

Got the BOA Meeting Minutes

The meeting minutes were finally done today. I have been asking for all kinds of information from the Village to see if it can help my case. The minutes are all over the place and some of the facts are off (and some are missing), but they are done, nonetheless. They can be found here, if you are interested.

We Made The Front Page Again!

The reporter from the local paper, the Banner Journal, attended the BOA appeals hearing and wrote up an article for the paper. Unfortunately, the way the meeting went can not be conveyed in an article like that. I just hope that going forward, we can help educate everyone on the facts of the project and get it ultimately approved. At this time, we are looking for attorneys to give us advice on how to proceed. The next step, per the Village Ordinance, is to take the decision to a Court of Record for a review.