In 2017, the city of Shorewood erroneously cited the Cameron and Sanschagrin families for a dock violation. The families appealed on the basis the code did not prohibit their seasonal dock - the code specifically only prohibited permanent and floating docks. Rather than admit it was wrong, the city withdrew the citation, rewrote the code to eliminate the limiting modifiers and then criminally charged the families the following year. When its criminal prosecution failed, the city pursued civil litigation … and ultimately lost.
Throughout the process, the city refused to speak with the families while at the same time making false and misleading statements about the case and the families. Among its false claims, the city said it notified the families (see memorandum below) they could not place a dock on the property. The statement of conjecture that the property “… cannot have a dock without a house on the lot” buried within the memo was incorrect at the time it was written (i.e., before the city subsequently amended the code to "clarify" it in direct response to the families' appeal).
The families defended themselves after the city prosecuted them and pursued litigation against them over five years. Even though the appellate court ruled unanimously that the city's own actions demonstrated it knew its original zoning code did not prohibit their seasonal dock - the city chose to communicate to Shorewood residents “no wrongdoing” in the matter by the city against the families.
Moving forward, if elected I will work with residents, the city council, and staff to ensure the city abides by its own code and does not punish residents who follow the city's written code.
Over our five year journey, the facts, the law and perseverance prevailed over politics, gaslighting, and false narratives. I've learned a lot about our legal system. It's unpredictable - but we are grateful it works.
I hope to put my knowledge of the system to work for Shorewood so that no other residents will encounter the city's heavy-handed, litigious behavior. I believe cities should be required to pursue conflict resolution and hold public hearings before prosecuting residents.
In 2015, Shorewood sued Excelsior, Greenwood, Deephaven, and Tonka Bay in an aggressive attempt to compel these cities to accept a lower buyout value for the Southshore Community Center (today the Shorewood Community and Event Center or SCEC) than originally agreed. In its attempt to force the cities to reduce the purchase price by $250,000, the city of Shorewood spent $52,558 on this case petitioning all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court and lost the case.
“This lawsuit took over 16 months to come to a conclusion, and I am glad it finally is over,” said Greenwood Mayor Deb Kind. “The lawsuit was frustrating on so many levels. A lot of money in attorney fees, and a lot of time could have been saved if Shorewood would have just paid the other cities according to the 1996 agreement instead of initiating a lawsuit.”
Here is another case of the city's past behavior involving a unilateral change of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP): https://caselaw.findlaw.com/mn-court-of-appeals/1094298.html
After wasting tens of thousands of taxpayer money, city lost this case too! The judge ruled that the city could not unilaterally alter the terms of a CUP!