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THE DENIAL OF a pier permit by the village of Williams Bay has been a legal fight for several years. Walworth County Circuit Court Judge James Carlson ruled in favor of the village, but the pier owner, Christopher and Magdalena Pauly are appealing the decision. The village said Pauly can’t place his shorestation at its current location because it violates the village’s setback requirements. (click for larger version)
June 18, 2013 | 01:29 PM
WILLIAMS BAY — A couple who owns lakeshore property in the village are appealing a recent Walworth County Court decision that supported the village's right to enforce its setbacks on pier-mounted shore stations.

At its committees of the whole meeting June 12, the village board's building, zoning and ordinance committee recommended that the village contest the appeal.

Christopher and Magdalena Pauly, Roselle, Ill., who own a summer home and pier at 7 N .Walworth St., Williams Bay, filed their lawsuit Nov. 15, 2012.

The case was heard by Walworth County Judge James L. Carlson, who, in an April 9 decision, rejected arguments that the village's pier setback rules were contrary to law and that enforcement of those laws were arbitrary and capricious.

Mara Spring, Elkhorn, the Paulys' attorney, filed a notice of appeal May 30. A motion to reconsider was filed with Carlson on May 31. Carlson rejected the request the next day.

The appeal is set for a three-judge review.

No date for hearing the appeal has been scheduled.

The case started as a dispute over the village's rejection of the Paulys' request for a shore station permit for their pier.

A shore station is where a boat is parked and usually lifted out of the water. The station protects the boat from other boats and keeps it from banging against the pier.

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The village denied the permit because drawings showed that it would encroach about 2.5 feet into the southern neighbors' 12.5 foot set back.

The village's harbor commission set the 12.5-foot setback in 1994 to ensure a 25-foot separation between piers to allow boats to gain access to the lake.

However, a number of piers and shore stations were in existence and use before the 1994 regulations, and while they do not comply with the setback, they are grandfathered in and allowed to continue to operate.

The Paulys are allowed the use of a shore station on the north end of their pier.

It is a south shore station on the south end that has been a bone of contention between the Paulys and the village harbor commission.

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Last year, the Paulys installed the shore station on the south side of their pier without village approval.

The village harbor commission ran late in issuing permits and denials. All permits and denials are usually mailed out by March. In 2012, the Paulys claim they did not receive their letter of denial until July. They had already installed the shore station.

They appealed their refusal to the village administrative appeals board, an ad hoc body which is appointed by the village president and convened for such purposes.

The appeals board upheld the village's decision.

The Paulys then appealed to the circuit court.

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Before both the appeals board and the circuit court, the Paulys asked that the village be required to adopt a new way of determining littoral property lines.

Currently, the village simply extends land property lines out into the lake to determine the setbacks between piers.

The Paulys want the Knitter method to be used to survey littoral property lines.

The Knitter method of surveying follows the curvature of the shore. And the shoreline where the Paulys and their neighbors live curves.

Using the Knitter method of determining setbacks would force the Paulys and their neighbors to reposition their piers, but would also make the two shore stations the Paulys requested fall within setback lines.

The Paulys first suggested the Knitter method for determining pier setbacks in 2008.

However, the village has a 2008 letter from the state Department of Natural Resources that says the agency prefers the extended lot line method simply because the agency determined it was the fairest method of determining riparian rights along that section of shore.

The DNR letter says in part, "no single method would make all elements comply with lot lines."

In his decision to dismiss the Paulys' writ of certiori, Carlson noted the letter and wrote that the DNR's support of using extended lot lines to determine littoral property lines and setbacks was a significant factor in his decision.


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