Council sinks Fowler Lake Village
Rejected developer’s agreement seals controversial condo
By Ryan Billingham - Enterprise Staff
Dec. 4, 2014
OCONOMOWOC — The Fowler
Lake Village condominium project will not move forward after
the Oconomowoc Common Council voted against the approval of
a developer’s agreement Tuesday night.
The 6-1 vote puts to rest a debate that Mayor Jim Daley said
was unprecedented in his time as mayor.
“I’ve got more letters than I have had on Pabst Farms,
high-speed rail, the Kwik Trip ... I think combined we have
had more letters,” he said.
Aldermen Mike Miller, Matt Rosek, Charlie Shaw, James
Larsen, Derek Zwart and Tom Strey voted in opposition to the
agreement. Alderman David Nold cast the lone dissenting
vote. Alderman Ken Herro recused himself and abstained.
Larson, Herro, Miller and Nold hold seats that will appear
on the April 2015 ballot.
Several aldermen commented on the project.
Zwart talked about his concerns, particularly the
differences he spotted in the original memorandum of
understanding — a nonbinding agreement between the Community
Development Authority and the developers — and the
“I am just trying to show you things changed and how much
larger that site got between the (memorandum of
understanding) and what’s on the table today,” Zwart said.
Larsen focused on the inability to expand City Hall if such
a need ever arises.
Parking was again at the center of the conversation. Several
petitioners and aldermen again expressed uncertainty over
how the project might impact parking downtown.
Nold, who supported the project, said he was happy to see
his property tax bill drop this week and that increasing the
tax base and encouraging growth is how decreases are
“It’s always stated we can do something else with that back
parking lot. Over these years I don’t think anybody has ever
come up with a better option,” he said.
Rosek, who admitted he has been one of the more vocal
opponents of the plan, said it was clear that developer Jeff
Seymour did not have the money to create the project and
despite a loan being secured through bonds purchased by
First Bank Financial Centre, it is still city money.
Daley chose to quote a passage from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”
in which Hamlet and Polonius discuss the shape of a cloud
and revise its interpretation several times.
Daley also expressed appreciation for
the community’s engagement and said he hoped the process had
strengthened the community’s faith in government.
History of the project
Fowler Lake Village was a proposed
condominium development in which the city would have swapped
land with a development group that owns a parcel of land
near City Hall.
The city agreed to swap the land it owns
behind City Hall, primarily a parking lot used by police
vehicles and city workers.
The city would have traded the parking
lot for property Seymour owns across the street on St. Paul
and and Pleasant streets.
Seymour would have then built on the
current parking lot and the city would have made the
property across the street replacement parking.
The financing for the project would have
come though a nearly $7 million loan issued by the city,
which would have been immediately bought by First Bank
Opponents of the project have raised
objections to a lack of parking, the loss of public land,
the financing and the land swap that would have, they said,
bailed out Seymour, who let the homes decay.