Town seeks pre-trial ruling in garage spat with couple

Judge asked to issue summary judgment before case goes to trial in 2020
Ozaukee Press Staff

A long-running legal dispute between the Town of Saukville and a couple who built an apartment over their garage — allegedly in violation of local zoning, and which is due to go to trial in January — could end next month as a judge is set to rule on a motion for summary judgment.

Town Attorney Sarah MacCarthy made the motion earlier this month, and Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Steve Cain is scheduled to rule on it Dec. 16.

The dispute is scheduled for a two-day trial Jan. 30 and 31.

The case stretches back to 2015 when Reed and Jeanne Horton said they received permission from the town Plan Commission to replace a garage 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, however, the “bonus room” had morphed into a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, making it a second dwelling on the property and violating town codes.

The Hortons were ordered to tear out the improvements, and when they didn’t, the town sued in July 2018.

The Hortons, who live in Spring Green and want to use the property as a family retreat, and their attorney have since argued that the garage is attached to the house by a sidewalk, which they said creates a “connecting foundation” and makes them essentially a single structure and therefore not in violation.

Nearly a year ago, a court-ordered mediation agreement collapsed when the Hortons failed to pay the town $17,500 because, Reed Horton complained, the town didn’t inspect changes he had made to the property.

In her motion to dismiss, MacCarthy restates the facts of the case and the town’s arguments against the Hortons.

The Hortons could be fined $100 for every day they have been in violation, plus attorney fees.

At the time of the mediation, the Hortons had accrued fines totaling $75,000 and $12,500 in town attorney fees, according to court documents.



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