Lake Village saga continues at marathon council meeting
Council delays action until next month
By Ryan Billingham - Enterprise Staff
Alderman Matt Rosek, center,
speaks to an attorney representing Fowler Lake Village LLC
about his concerns over the project. Aldermen, left to
right, Mike Miller, Charlie Shaw and David Nold look on with
City Administrator Diane Gard.
OCONOMOWOC — The Fowler Lake
Village debate provided some fireworks yet again at the
Oconomowoc Common Council meeting Tuesday night when two lawyers
— one an alderman, one representing the interests of the Fowler
Lake Village development — locked in a verbal debate that
resembled a cross-examination on a television court drama.
The outcome of the 3 1/2hour meeting was less dramatic, however.
The fate of the often-maligned development was delayed again
until the council’s next regular meeting Dec. 2.
Over 20 people addressed the council, nearly all of them opposed
to the project. Attorney Kathryn Sawyer Gutenkunst from the firm
of Cramer, Multhauf and Hammes of Waukesha spoke about the
project and handed the council a letter from her firm describing
the challenges her clients, Rockwell LLC and Fowler Lake Village
LLC, have faced in the past two years.
“Two things struck me when I got here tonight,” Gutenkunst said.
“The mayor said we should all be respectful of others and we
should be respectful of people who don’t have opinions that may
not mirror image our own, yet when I arrived here tonight I was
met with comments that I will only describe as unbecoming of the
city and I find that really disheartening.”
Attorney Kathryn Sawyer
Gutenkunst from the firm of Cramer, Multhauf and Hammes of
Waukesha answers questions about the Fowler Lake Village
project in a heated exchange with
Alderman Matt Rosek, also a lawyer.
She summarized the letter by saying
it has cost time, money and effort including 24 months of
interest developer Jeff Seymour has had to pay on the land
he owns that would have been swapped for the parking lot
behind City Hall.
She said her clients have “spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars,” have always wanted the developer’s agreement to go
to the council, and have asked the city to put it on the
Gutenkunst said the council might be surprised by that,
apparently referring to the removal of the agenda item by
the city just hours before its Nov. 4 meeting.
At that time, Mayor Jim Daley said he didn’t know what the
developers were going to do but that they requested the
developer’s agreement be pulled from the agenda as they
consider the plan.
Gutenkunst said the city asked the
developers to remove the agenda item citing a lack of
support for the plan.
As Alderman Matthew Rosek pressed
Gutenkunst about who called her firm to remove the agenda
item, she repeatedly said she did not take the phone call
and that the attorney in charge of the file, James Hammes,
was at a budget hearing elsewhere in the county.
Alderman James Larsen again pressed the
issue, asking Gutenkunst repeatedly who made the call, but
the attorney answered each time that she did not take that
call and would not assume who it was that called.
Daley then tried to clarify what had
happened. He said he spoke with the developers about a lack
of support for the plan and asked them if they might
consider changing aspects of the plan, which may have led to
the removal of the item.
“I don’t think it is anything
nefarious,” he said. “I just want to clarify.”
Rosek’s earlier resolution was an
attempt to force an up-or-down vote on the project by
repealing council approval of a memorandum of understanding
made between the city’s Community Development Authority and
the development group.
A memorandum of understanding is a
document that is not legally binding, but that outlines the
framework in which two parties will proceed in the
Rosek said he originally proposed the
resolution because the developers had backed off the deal,
according to the city, and he wanted to act to avoid a
return to the debate in the future.
A motion was made and approved to
postpone the agenda item until the next meeting with the
mayor’s assurance that the developer’s agreement will be
first on the agenda.
At that time, the council will vote to
approve or reject the development agreement.