Town taking couple to court over building spat

Board will seek order to remove kitchen in structure it says violates local ordinance
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Town of Saukville is taking a couple to court for building a second home on their property in violation of a town ordinance.

“We are faced with a situation that should have been resolved a long time ago, but it wasn’t,” resident Jeanne Horton said during a  Town Board meeting Tuesday.

Horton said the town and her family were “both at fault and could’ve done things differently.”

The building is owned by the woman and her husband Reed Horton, who received permission from the Town Plan Commission in 2015 to replace a garage structure at 3150 Highview Rd.

The building permit application and design plan showed that the second floor of the garage would have a large open room identified as a “bonus room,” which Horton described as a work studio for his wife. 

But when town building inspector Walter Grotelueschen visited the garage, he discovered that the second floor of the garage contained a kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms, making the garage a dwelling unit. Horton was told he had 30 days to remove the new amenities from his property, so he hired a lawyer to file an appeal.

“Curiously, the building inspector inspected the new build on three occasions and failed to communicate any of these violations at the time he was there until we were finally getting to the end of the construction,” Horton said in an email to the town in May 2017.

“A town board and courts look at different situations and make decisions that are fair to the residents of the township and we are looking to you to help us find a solution we can all live with.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board went into closed session to discuss what legal action to take and announced in open session that it will take Horton to court to remove the kitchen, which would discontinue the second dwelling on the property. 

Jeanne Horton explained hardships of having a long driveway, a secluded residence and that it was impossible to use the property without the additional amenities. She also said it would cost thousands of dollars to remove the kitchen.

“It would’ve been a good idea to have thought about that before you built the kitchen,” Supr. Mike Denzien said. 

Several neighbors in attendance commended the Hortons for improving their property, and said they didn’t want to have their tax dollars spent on legal fees for the town.

Jeanne Horton said she and her husband were misinformed by a former town clerk about proper code regulations.

“We trusted that your town clerk should know the ordinances and should have told us right from the beginning that we couldn’t have a studio with living quarters in a detached structure,” she said.

The board said there is no proof of misinformation given to the Hortons, and a clerk does not have the authority to settle the case.

The Hortons said they use the property as a family retreat for their 16 or more relatives who live near Madison. 

“When we bought this property, we wanted a family retreat for holidays and special family events,” Jeanne Horton said. “The extra space would be a way to accommodate our needs.”

“Times change, situations change, and good government needs to change to work for its people,” Jeanne Horton said.

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