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City Holds Off on Sale of Portion of Lake Parcel

A resident's request for additional access to his property raises concerns over whether city should consider selling any part of public access parcel to private citizens.

The Parks Board deferred a decision to recommend a sale of land to a lake resident looking to get into his own garage and maintain some privacy.

This was a problem many admitted Jim Mortle moved into about 18 years ago. His property sits directly adjacent to lake access parcel 12, at the intersection of Park and Lake Drives on Little Muskego Lake. In addition, a portion of his driveway and entrance is also a roadway leading to the parcel, and the city has owned it for about 50 years. The public uses the short piece of road to access the lake, and a small parcel that many of the residents present at the Park Board meeting on Monday night called a park.

The decision before the board was whether they would recommend a sale of a portion of the roadway to Mortle in order for him to have a more defined property line and access to his home. Part of his proposal would divide the roadway by a median of sorts, including brickwork and plantings. The proposal would have left about a 16 foot wide paved path to the lake for the public, and 28 feet in Mortle's possession. He has also offered to improve the access parcel at his own expense, including making the access parcel ADA accessible.

Some neighbor's felt the acquisition, and Mortle's proposed changes, would enhance the area, which many in the neighborhood feel offers the best swimming because of the hard lake bottom there.

"I know the type of improvements Jim has done in the past, and he's always done a top notch job," said Dave Burke. "This is just a dead end stub of a road, and the from the renderings I'm seeing, this looks like something you'd see on Lake Geneva."

However, other residents were opposed, concerned that the dividing median that Mortle was proposing blocked their view of the lake and left too narrow a path.

"I don't live on the lake, but I do pay lake access fees," said Donna Ferguson. "I think it would decrease our property values if you can't see the lake and I think it limits accessibility."

Craig Anderson, Parks Director, told the board and residents who attended the public information meeting that their decision would not address the specifics of the road width, but the planning commission and public works department would likely have to weigh in on site lines and other matters.

Mortle's proposal came after a previous plan to raze the home and rebuild was met with resistance with city planners. They said Mortle would have to place his driveway entrance on Lake Drive, as the improvements would cause his property to conform under current codes. However, Mortle had wanted a wider garage, which couldn't be accommodated using that revised layout.

Continued complaints from residents included Mortle's use of the land, with some questioning where the property lines actually lie. Park board members agreed there were too many unanswered questions, and felt that a survey would be required before they would agree to a recommendation for a sale. Mortle will need to provide more information to Anderson before the matter will be taken up again.

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