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State Files Environmental Lawsuit Against Shorewood Hills Property Owner and Contractors for Shore Access Structure

 

MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today announced that his office has filed a civil environmental prosecution against William Haus, Bauer & Raether Builders, Inc., and D.L. Anderson's Lakeside Leisure Co., Inc., for their alleged unlawful construction of a three‑story lake access structure on the shore of Lake Mendota in the Village of Shorewood Hills, behind the home of Mr. Haus. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had asked the Wisconsin Department of Justice to prosecute them for violating a state law which prohibits the placement of fill material or structures on the bed of a lake without first obtaining a permit from the DNR authorizing such activity.

 

In Wisconsin, Van Hollen said, the bed of a lake is deemed to be all land beneath the waters of the lake and up the shore to the elevation of the lake's "ordinary high-water mark." The complaint filed in the case alleges that in early 2009, at the request of Shorewood Hills officials who were then considering issuing a building permit for its construction, Haus submitted architectural plans to the DNR for the proposed construction of a three-level lake access structure that would be cantilevered from a thirty-foot cliff behind his home and provide access to a seasonal pier in the lake by means of a retractable staircase, but which did not depict the placement of any structures or fill on the bed of Lake Mendota. On April 1, 2009, the DNR advised Haus that it would not require a DNR permit because DNR jurisdiction in such matters only applies to structures on the bed of the lake.

 

The complaint alleges that later that summer, without first advising the DNR, Haus changed the plans for the structure from being cantilevered off the cliff to being supported by four steel columns set on a concrete pad which was constructed in large part upon the bed of Lake Mendota. The complaint alleges that Haus' contractor and a subcontractor, Bauer & Raether Builders, Inc, and D.L. Anderson's Lakeside Leisure Co., Inc., created a foundation for the concrete pad by breaking up rocks that had fallen from the cliff into the lake, and excavating other stone and soil material which had accumulated against the face of the cliff, and then leveling and spreading that stone and soil material on lake bed areas, including submerged areas in deeper water out from the pad and access structure. The complaint filed also alleges that, in the year since the concrete pad was poured, the crushed rock foundation has eroded in a manner undermining it, leaving the entire front edge of the concrete pad unsupported.

 

The case was filed in Dane County Circuit Court today and has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Shelley Gaylord. The defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence with respect to these civil charges, Van Hollen said.

 

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Dosch will be handling the prosecution.

 

Copies of the complaint and exhibits are available at: