Kurkiewicz: SMC project shouldn’t have reached council

Panel voted down resolution before council approved it

A resolution that gave the go-ahead for negotiations on a housing development at the former Shawano Medical Center property never should have come to the Common Council for a vote, an alderman said Wednesday.

Tadych Investment Partners of Green Bay is proposing a four-story, 39-unit luxury apartment building and 25 single-family condominiums at the former hospital site.

The project was overwhelmingly opposed by neighbors.

The council voted 4-2 last month to approve two resolutions, including a zone change that would allow for the development contingent on a developer’s agreement being reached and a letter of intent between the city and the developer that set the guidelines for negotiating the agreement.

That letter of intent was voted down by a 2-1 vote of the finance committee at a special meeting just before the council met on Dec. 13.

At a Common Council meeting Wednesday, Alderman Bob Kurkiewicz asked that the record be corrected regarding the resolution’s sponsorship.

“It’s erroneous to say it was sponsored by finance when in reality it was not sponsored by finance,” he said.

Typically, any resolution that fails at the finance committee never gets as far as the council.

In this case, however, with the council meeting on the same day, the item was already placed on the council’s agenda.

Kurkiewicz and Alderperson Sandy Steinke voted against the resolution at both the finance committee and council meeting.

“Normally, we don’t bring something to the council if it doesn’t come out of the committee with a favorable vote, but there’s nothing illegal about that,” said City Attorney Tim Schmid.

Schmid said that while that’s been the city’s practice, there’s no policy in place mandating it.

He also said committee votes are intended to be advisory.

“The council is the body that has ultimate decision-making authority, not the committee,” he said.

Assistant City Administrator Eddie Sheppard also noted that the letter of intent did not commit the city to anything.

“You’ve authorized staff to try to work out terms for the development, and the development agreement would come back to you for approval,” he said. “Nothing’s going to move forward without your consent from the council side.”

Sheppard said there could be a draft developer’s agreement brought to the council at its February meeting.

Wednesday’s council meeting was the last opportunity under parliamentary rules to reconsider the resolution, though it would have had to be brought back to the floor by someone who voted in favor of it at the last meeting.

“If you do the motion to reconsider and you vote it down then we’re done with it. Then we’re done on the project,” Sheppard told the council. “That would be a pretty swift change of direction, I would say.”

Schmid also warned the council of possible legal ramifications if the developer has already spent money based on the council’s vote last month.

“If the developer has already relied on the city council’s action and has expended money — for architect fees, permit fees, surveys — there could be a claim,” he said. “How strong that would be in terms of a lawsuit, I don’t want to express an opinion on.”

There was no motion made to do reconsider the resolution, but the council did vote unanimously to remove any reference to finance committee sponsorship.