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Egg Harbor pub loses Supreme Court case over municipal land condemnation

Posted at 7:03 PM, Jun 21, 2024

DOOR COUNTY (NBC 26) — Shipwrecked Brew Pub & Restaurant was on the losing end of a 4-3 decision which ruled that the Village of Egg Harbor could condemn part of their land to it turn into a sidewalk.

  • Shipwrecked ownership and management are not happy with the outcome
  • Egg Harbor village administration says they are "pleased" with the decision
  • The nearly five-decade legal battle went through many twists and turns before the final decision

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Around five years ago, the Village of Egg Harbor began a road safety project, adding sidewalks along Horseshoe Bay Rd., Egg Harbor Rd., and other roads near main street.

One of those sidewalks would be placed alongside Shipwrecked Brew Pub & Restaurant.

"They approached us about using some of our land to expand the sidewalk," says restaurant manager Joe Smith.

But, Shipwrecked's ownership and the village disagreed about the value of the land. The village says it eventually chose to condemn part of the property to build the sidewalk along Horseshoe Bay Rd.

"We stood up for our land because it was part of our dining patio and part of our parking that we were losing," Smith comments.

Pub owner Sojenhomer LLC sued Egg Harbor in 2020 and lost. However, the decision was overturned on appeal, prompting Egg Harbor to petition the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

There, the justices had to determine if a sidewalk is a pedestrian way. Under state law, property can't be condemned for a pedestrian way, like a bike path. But, it can be for a safety feature like a sidewalk.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in favor of the village. Egg Harbor Village Administrator Megan Sawyer praises the decision.

"If the ruling had been in favor of the other side, we wouldn't have had a street that would have been completely safe for our residents and people visiting."

Sawyer took over as village administrator one week after initial parts of the overall project were completed. Still, she says she hopes to avoid future situations like this.

"The village will always work with property owners we can to come to the most reasonable outcome for all parties involved."

Shipwrecked management says in the long run, they will be okay. Meanwhile, the Village of Egg Harbor says further sidewalk construction around the city will conclude in the fall.