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No Sale on Lake Access Land

Owner withdraws his offer to purchase a portion of land deemed as lake access park, while city hopes to clarify property lines and restore vegetation

Perhaps the adage is true: strong fences make good neighbors.

A dispute among neighbors over the use of a lake access parcel was resolved Monday night, using a literal line in the asphalt to clear up confusion.

Jim Mortle, whose home is situated along Park Drive, has withdrawn his offer to purchase a portion of the land to beautify the area as well as create a distinction between his property and public access. The street literally leads into Little Muskego Lake, and public lake access parcel 12.

The Parks Board met Monday night and Director Craig Anderson told them that he had done surveys to determine lot lines, and admitted "I was surprised at how wide the (city) parcel was. In addition, there is no easement agreement that's on paper - just that the property owner is allowed to use it to access his property."

An aerial view provides a perspective of the problem: Park Drive continues to the Lake directly in front of Mortle's home, and as his garage faces that street, he must use it in order to back out of his garage. At some point the road ends and is considered park land. Neighbors had told the board at their previous meeting however that Mortle went even further and used a fair portion of the asphalted area to park vehicles for his business.

Anderson agreed that some liberties had been taken with the land, but admitted the confusion over lot lines wasn't helping matters.

"I noticed a few trees that were buried, and I had to dig down quite a ways to get to the root collars on  the access parcel. If there is damage, Mr. Mortle may be liable for that," Anderson said. "But the confusion remains - it is a park by definition, not a road; we've just asphalted over it."

The board agreed to use striping on the asphalt to create a visible delineation between Mortle's property and the lake access, and split rail fencing where the asphalt ends down to the lake.

Moving forward, the parks department will work with Conservation Coordinator Tom Zagar to restore vegetation on the park land, as well as looking into any other beautification efforts at the lake access.

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