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State Settles Environmental Lawsuit Against Shorewood Hills Property Owner for Shore Access Structure


MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today announced that his office has settled a civil environmental prosecution which had been brought 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 bed of Lake Mendota along a cliff behind the Shorewood Hills 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 state‑owned 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 case alleged that in the summer of 2009, without a DNR permit, Haus built a three-story lake access structure consisting of various platforms and stairways which were supported by four steel columns set on top of a concrete pad which had been built – in large part – upon the bed of Lake Mendota.


Under the terms of a settlement agreement which has now been approved by Dane County Circuit Judge Shelley Gaylord, Haus will:


  • By no later than November 30, 2011, remove the concrete pad, the steel columns which rest on it, and the underlying concrete grout, from the lake shore;
  • After the concrete is removed, he will "naturalize" the crushed rock pad now underlying the concrete by digging water filled inlets into it to enhance its value for wildlife;
  • He will suspend the shore access structure from the stone cliff (which he owns) by the use of steel beams, rather than supporting it on the bed of Lake Mendota; and
  • He will pay a total of $13,000 in penalties, fees and surcharges to the State of Wisconsin.


To his credit, Van Hollen said, Mr. Haus has agreed to take steps to restore the lakeshore environment. The Department of Justice had previously settled its claims against Mr. Haus's contractor and subcontractor, Bauer & Raether Builders, Inc., and D.L. Anderson's Lakeside Leisure Co., Inc., so the case is now concluded.


Recently retired Assistant Attorney General Thomas Dosch handled the prosecution.