Complaint filed over proposed Grafton McDonald’s
Developer says village violated open meetings law

By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff

May 12, 2015

GRAFTON — Continental Properties, the company that worked to bring the 60th anniversary McDonald’s to the Grafton Commons development, has filed a complaint against the village of Grafton.

The complaint, filed with Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol, claims that the Village Board violated Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law.

Brenna Sadler, a representative of Continental Properties, said the Village Board discussed a zoning issue that came up as part of the McDonald’s issue in closed session, which she said is not allowed under the limited provisions for closed sessions.

“The village takes seriously the open meeting complaint and the village will vigorously defend itself,” Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said in an email to the News Graphic.

A zoning change to the C-4 district had been listed as a condition of Continental being issued a building permit to begin construction on the McDonald’s, planned for the final lot in Grafton Commons on Highway 60. The item was tabled at the April 6 Village Board meeting until after closed session. The board returned to open session that evening and then rejected the zoning change.

“The complaint filed by the developer is part of a larger campaign to intimidate the Village Board into overturning its vote,” Hofland said.

“It is very unusual for a board to vote on a substantive zoning change immediately after a closed session without further discussion,” Sadler said in an email. “This behavior suggests that the Board inappropriately discussed the zoning change in closed session. Failure to discuss government business in open session is a clear violation of Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law.”

Gerol said he received the complaint Monday. He said the first step is to have it investigated, with all relevant documents being collected. He has 20 days from the date of the filing to review the complaint and make a decision; if he refuses the complaint or otherwise fails to take action within that time, the complainant, Continental Properties, can take over litigation on its own behalf, the district attorney said.

“The complaint is unfounded. With legal support by the village attorney, the Village Board acted in accordance with the Open Meeting Law,” Hofland said.

Since the April 6 Village Board meeting, it has been discovered that the planned unit development of Grafton Commons is not tied to C-4 zoning as was previously thought. The zoning change would not be legally required for the McDonald’s to build there, though the zoning change was still listed by the Plan Commission as a condition of Continental Properties receiving a building permit.

<<EARLIER: McDonald’s quashed for interchange district

<<EARLIER: Second McDonald’s headed to Grafton