Residents concerned over bay access
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – A tiny swath of land with a murky history has given ice anglers a path to the Bay of Green Bay, and the Suamico village board will likely make a decision to clear up its future use.
The 16-foot-wide parcel off Longtail Beach Lane dates back to 1917 when the swath was not dedicated as an alley.
The owner at the time, Ken McCoy, transferred the land in 1925, at which time he reserved the alley as a public right of way, but the change was never formally adopted by Brown County or the village.
In the 1960s, it was actually dug out as a lagoon for a local resident to have access to his boat house.
“This is a route that been used for 100 years, not lately as much, but this is the only route to get out there for that particular area,” said Jim Kowalkowski, Suamico directed enforcement officer.
At the time, the land transfer was a legal way to declare the alley.
“Because they did this is as a land transfer, it’s a legal way to dedicate it, but the board has to accept as a resolution,” said Steve Dunks, zoning administrator. “But the fact is it has never been recorded (except as a reservation by resolution).”
With the wet winter so far, this has created ice up to the roadway. Due to this being pointed out on social media, the alley has seen more use than ever before.
At times between 40 and 50 cars line the street, and the village has instituted no parking on the east side of Longtail Beach Lane.
However, Kowalkowski and Andy Smits, director of public works, assured there is enough room for emergency vehicles, school buses and plows to use the road with the parking on one side.
The village also has the authority to act on this matter when it wants.
“We have been assured by Brown County that there is not a statue of limitations on this,” Dunks said. “So if you choose at the next meeting to do a resolution approving this, they would accept it.”
Village Administrator Steve Kubacki said legal counsel is still researching the issue, and he will likely have a recommended course of action for the board at the next meeting on Jan. 21.
“This is a perfect storm,” Kubacki said. “You want to make sure you don’t overreact to this because there aren’t many access points to the Bay of Green Bay. We got 6 miles of shoreline and the access points are extremely limited.”
Lisa Van Horn, a land surveyor representing Anne Harry, who owns property on Longtail Beach Lane, said the issue at hand comes to what an alley was defined as in 1925.
“There’s a lot of questions here for attorneys on whether this was intended to be public access or not,” Van Horn said. “It’s dangerous waters to accept this 90 years (later) when there’s a lot of questions as to why this would not be an alley, or for the public to use.”
Residents also had concern about the increased traffic on Longtail Beach Lane, which was formally known as North Pole Street.
“If we’re looking at this right now with regard to ice fishing, I think down the line we might be looking at duck hunting as an access,” said Kathleen Spotts.
Spotts said she also has concern for her neighbors, many of whom are elderly.
Richard Cleveland echoed that statement.
“I have the people parking in front of my house, I have the problem with seeing to get out of my driveway,” Cleveland said. “By the time I can see, I’m out on the road.”
At its next meeting, the board will have to decide if it wants to accept the reservation and a public right of way, or leave it as is where it would then revert to the adjacent property owner.
It will also likely consider the definition of an alley, back in 1925 when it was created and what that means now.
“We have some work ahead of us and any other discussion on this is presumptive at this time,” Kubacki said.
In other news, coming out of closed session, the board approved what amounts to an average 3 percent raise for all unionized and nonunionized employees for 2019.