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Residents petition Wis. Supreme Court to hear Edgewater case

Two Madison residents are petitioning the Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear a case regarding the redevelopment of Madison's Edgewater Hotel. (File photo)

Two Madison residents have petitioned the state’s Supreme Court to hear a case regarding the Edgewater Hotel expansion.

Fred Mohs and Gene Devitt, residents of Madison’s Mansion Hill Historic District, have requested the court review their lawsuit against the city of Madison. Landmark X LLC, the hotel’s development company led by Robert Dunn, president of Brookfield-based Hammes Co., also is a defendant in the case.

The lawsuit, which argues the Common Council defied the city’s landmarks ordinance by approving the proposed $98 million redevelopment of the downtown hotel in spring 2010, has been denied by the courts twice, including most recently by the District IV Court of Appeals in October.

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EDGEWATER PROJECT

The petition for review was filed to the Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon. The defendants in the cast have until Dec. 7 to file a response, according to the court’s clerk’s office. The court has no time limit to decide whether to accept or deny the case.

The court meets once a month to consider petitions for review.

Mohs said his intentions regarding the lawsuit go beyond the Edgewater project, which was dealt a blow this month when the Common Council deadlocked on a 10-all vote to provide a $16 million subsidy for the project in 2012.

The vote meant the city will provide $3.3 million, per the request of Mayor Paul Soglin, in tax-incremental financing to the project next year.

The city committed $16 million in TIF money to the project for 2011, but developers have not received that money because Mohs’ lawsuit delayed construction. Dunn, according to reports, said he would try to file the required paperwork by Dec. 31 to receive the $16 million as opposed to $3.3 million next year.

Soglin told the Wisconsin Law Journal’s sister newspaper, The Daily Reporter, this month that it highly was unlikely the city could process the required TIF paperwork by Dec. 31 for the developer to receive the original commitment.

Mohs said regardless of the development’s fate, he couldn’t give up on his lawsuit.

“Even though many people believe the project is not going forward,” he said, “we feel we need to do this because the procedure for appealing landmarks is in shambles.”

The council’s 2010 approval of the project came against the recommendation of the city’s Landmarks Commission. Mohs has argued the council only can overturn the commission’s recommendation by claiming the property owner has a serious hardship, and since Dunn is not owner of the hotel — the Faulkner family remains the owner — the council acted against the city’s ordinance.

“Our basic contention is when the ordinance specifically says serious hardship for the owner, it must mean something, not nothing,” Mohs said, “This is very important, not just for Madison’s landmark district, but many other landmarks districts and many other zoning applications as well.”


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