Garage spat between town, homeowner heads to trial

Dispute over apartment that began in 2015 will go to circuit court in January
Ozaukee Press Staff

A dispute that began in 2015 between the Town of Saukville and a homeowner who wants to put an apartment over his garage is headed to trial.

A two-day trial is scheduled for Jan. 30 and 31, 2020, before Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Steven Cain.

The matter had been sent to mediation and the dispute appeared to be settled until both sides in the case accused the other of not following through on the agreement.

The saga began in 2015 when Spring Green resident Reed Horton and his wife Jeanne said they received permission from the town’s Plan Commission to replace a garage structure at 3150 Highview Rd. that included a second-story apartment above the garage. 

The original plan showed a “bonus room” over the garage that the Hortons said would be a work space for Jeanne.

When a town inspector showed up, a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom had been added, making it a second dwelling unit on the property, which violates a town code.

The Hortons said a former town clerk told them the amenities were permitted and that tearing out what they had already installed, as the inspector ordered, would be too costly.

When the Hortons refused to comply, the town sued the Hortons in June 2018. Meanwhile, the Hortons were being fined $100 a day. Earlier this year, those fines totaled more than $75,000.

Last November, Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Voiland ordered Horton and the town to go to mediation.

At a January mediation hearing, Horton and his attorney argued the garage and the main house should be considered a single structure because a sidewalk running between them constitutes a “connecting foundation,” making it allowable under town codes. 

The agreement called for Horton to remove an oven and cook top from the apartment, remove a closet door and pay $17,500 for attorney’s fees in 30 days, plus put a roof over the sidewalk by July 31. 

But Horton failed to make the payment. He said he didn’t because town officials didn’t inspect the improvements, which he said the agreement required them to do.

But town officials said the agreement did not require them to physically inspect the property, and that Horton could have just sent them photographs.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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