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Bay access point to stay private, but can still be used

By Ben Rodgers

SUAMICO – In the end, the village board voted to do nothing with a contentious bay access point at its Monday, Jan. 21 meeting.

A 16-foot strip of land off Longtail Beach Lane has gained the popularity of ice anglers looking for access points to the Bay of Green Bay.

However, residents are none too happy with the increased traffic the hot fishing spot has brought to their quaint neighborhood. The board faced two options on Monday, the first was to accept the strip as public access by resolution, something that the village has no record of.

If the board voted to accept by resolution, the village could then make improvements to the area to address any safety concerns.

The other option, which the board elected to approve, was to tell Brown County that the village has no interest in adopting the slice of land, thus reverting it back to the private owner.

This option means the slice remains private property. However, if high water continues, due to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations, nothing can be done to stop people from getting out on the water from there.

“As long as the water is accessible from our map, right-of-way access could not be denied to that, as long as they stay on the ice or water,” said Steve Dunks, zoning administrator.

That is because the DNR considers the property bay bottom, Dunks said.

It doesn’t matter if it’s private property underneath, he said, because as long as ice is on top, people can use it.

“It seems like you’re all looking at this like what can we do to stop it or whatever,” said Jay Dvorak, Suamico resident. “But, from what I heard, even if you made it all private, as soon as that water touches the road, the DNR is going to say there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s access.”

Trustee Sky Van Rossum said the village would lose the ability to have any control in the situation by dropping its interest in the lot.

“There’s no coming back to this,” Van Rossum said. “On the other hand, if the village somehow maintains some sort of authority over that piece of property, people are going to use no matter what, but at least we can do something to make it more bearable.”

Trustee Jason Ward said this problem could solve itself, when water levels recede.

“To some extent, I think we’re working on a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” Ward said. “I’m fine with taking no action on it. I think this is one of those things that might work itself out. When the ice is fine next year, I don’t think you’re going to see the same issue.”

The lone vote opposing the motion was Van Rossum. Trustee Dan Roddan was absent.

In other news, the village board authorized the Public Works Department to start the bid process for road reconstruction this summer.

The budget for projects in 2019 includes $560,000 for Whippoorwill Road, Velp Avenue, North Lake Ridge Lane, Scotch Pine Trail/Court, Torrey Pines Circle and West Deerfield Avenue.

Finally, the village board is looking for citizen representation on a committee that will examine fire department staffing levels.

The committee would meet up to four times this year and investigate the needs the department has and the best way to staff the department moving forward.

Anyone interested can call the village at 920-434-2212.

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