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Nine Mequon families join lawsuit between River Club owner and Mequon

Amended complaint says residents have the right 'to enjoy the scenic view'

April 30, 2013

Mequon - Nine families have joined the fray in the lawsuit between River Club owner Thomas Weickardt and the city of Mequon, while Weickardt's attorneys are reframing their argument against the city.

The families are from the Deer Trail Estates subdivision in the Ville Du Parc neighborhood and have successfully entered the suit through the legal process of intervention, which allows interested or potentially affected parties to join a case.

The original December 2012 suit petitioned an Ozaukee County judge to compel the city to enforce trespassing and keep locals off a 42-acre lot abutting the Milwaukee River. Weickardt's attorney argued then that the open space easement governing the lot, which specifically mentions residents of Deer Trail Estates and has been subject to debate, is "unlike a true easement" and doesn't grant Ville du Parc residents the right to use the property, while also alleging the city hadn't enforced his ownership rights.

In light of Deer Trail Estates residents joining the suit, Weickardt's attorneys filed an amended complaint April 23. The new complaint classifies any entrance by neighbors onto the 42-acre lot as trespassing and says the easement "only gives the Intervening Defendants (Deer Trail residents) the right to enjoy the scenic vista of Plaintiff's property as open space."

"Mr. Weickardt wants to enjoy the same property rights as any other property owner and determine when and under what circumstances people may enter his property," said attorney Christopher Hale, adding that in light of the controversy over the easement, "Mr. Weickardt believes many of the Ville Du Parc neighbors support him now, because he has assured them in writing that he will never develop the golf course."

The new complaint asks the judge to rule the easement doesn't entitle any third parties, including Deer Trail Estates residents, to enter the 42-acre lot, and to compel the city to enforce Weickardt's property rights against trespass.

Deer Trail Estates resident Robert Holtz is among those who have entered into the case, and, as an attorney, is also representing the nine families - himself included - in the suit. He said he will be submitting a legal response on behalf of the Deer Trail Estates residents within 20 days of Weickardt's amended claim filing, and expects City Attorney John DeStefanis to file a response from the city in that time frame.

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