Fowler Lake Village rises again
Law firm asks for a judicial review of city’s handling of the project

By Ryan Billingham - Enterprise Staff

Jan. 8, 2015

OCONOMOWOC - After a brief holiday break, Fowler Lake Village is back, and it brought lawyers.

The embattled and ultimately doomed project is rearing its head again in the form of a request for a judicial review filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court on Wednesday.

Lawyers representing Fowler Lake Village LLC and Rockwell Development LLC filed a document that asks the court to review the proceedings conducted by the city of Oconomowoc and, in particular, the Common Council regarding its decision to deny a developer’s agreement for Fowler Lake Village, a  mixed-use condominium complex downtown.

According to the request, the city and Common Council “acted in an arbitrary, unreasonable, and capricious manner, and exercised its will rather than its judgement” when it denied the developer’s agreement on Dec. 2.

Mayor Jim Daley said “from a general standpoint” he was not surprised by the action, but said he had only just heard about the document from City Attorney Bill Chapman and could not discuss any details, since he had not seen it himself.

“We will spend the next couple months or so working toward a resolution in which the city is well represented throughout the process,” he said.

The project drew harsh criticism from many residents, and for several months council meetings were packed with residents opposing the project. A grass-roots social media campaign called “Stop the Swap” cropped up and finally the council rejected the Fowler Lake Village developer’s agreement on Dec. 2 and effectively killed the project.

“At the end of the day I have taken a lot of pride in trying to maintain a process that for everyone who interacts with the city is fair,” Daley said.

The request asks the court require the city and Common Council to submit a complete record of all matters and activities undertaken by the city regarding its work with the plaintiffs.

In July, 2012 the Community Development Authority approved a Memorandum of Understanding - a less formal agreement that outlines each party’s responsibilities during a project - with the two development groups.

If the court finds the decision arbitrary, the review request asks the court grant relief to the plaintiffs, or that it remand the matter to the Common Council with the directions that it determine appropriate funding for the project in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding.

Alderman Matt Rosek, a vocal critic of the project, said it was too early for him to comment as well, since he had not heard about the request.