Written by bill Schanen IV
Thursday, 09 February 2017 00:37
Prosecutor seeks restrictions but judge doesn’t ban contact with Port High, schoolmate
The question in an Ozaukee County courtroom Tuesday wasn’t what amount of bail to set for Tanner R. Meinel but the conditions the 17-year-old Port Washington High School student charged with a felony for making a video of locker room shenanigans and posting it on Snapchat will have to live by while his case is pending.
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Sisley, who said he didn’t know if Meinel was in school, recommended he be prohibited from having contact with Port High and the 16-year-old he recorded on the video.
That, Meinel’s attorney Matt Last said, would be a problem. Meinel, who after the Nov. 10 locker room incident was described by Thad Gabrielse, Port High’s dean of students and athletic director, as a “very good kid” who was “fooling around and didn’t think,” is finishing his senior year at the school.
At the very least, Sisley said, Meinel should be prohibited from having contact with the 16-year-old in the video.
Last, however, said that both teenagers are members of the Port High wrestling team, and the no-contact order proposed by Sisley would mean Meinel would have to quit the team.
Both teenagers have described each other as friends in police reports and comments made to Ozaukee Press.
Sisley relented after reading a report that indicated the 16-year-old did not want a court order prohibiting Meinel from having contact with him.
Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland said he saw no need for such an order.
“I’m not going to interfere with the authority of the principal and the coach at the school,” he said.
The only condition set by Voiland is that Meinel not have a cell phone with a camera.
Last said, “Mr. Meinel no longer has a cell phone.”
Instead of a cash bond, Voiland set Meinel’s bail at a $2,500 signature bond. By signing a signature bond, a defendant does not have to post cash but promises to pay the amount of the bond if he violates the conditions of his bail.
On Dec. 29, Meinel was charged with capturing an image of nudity in a locker room under a statute referred to as Wisconsin’s revenge porn law, inspired by jilted lovers who post nude photos of their exes online to exact revenge. The felony Meinel faces is punishable by a maximum 1-1/2 years in prison and two years of extended supervision.
Meinel is accused of recording a cell phone video that shows the naked backside of the 16-year-old as he was retrieving his underwear in a school locker room after phy-ed class, then posting it to Snapchat, the popular mobile app that typically self-deletes images and videos 10 seconds after they’re opened.
According to a Port Washington Police Department report, a student who received the Snapchat video reported it to Gabrielse. School officials then notified police of the incident, which occurred around 10:20 a.m. on Nov. 10.
Administrators said they were obligated to report the incident to police because the video was posted on the Internet, but added that they didn’t think doing so would result in one of their students being charged with a felony.
“It was definitely a surprise to us,” Supt. Michael Weber said last month. “We thought if anything he might face a misdemeanor or just receive a warning.
“Sometimes people get caught up in the law, and it’s not fair and it’s not right.”
Among the students interviewed by officer Eric Leet after the incident was the 16-year-old, who said he was showering when two other students started joking around by pretending they were going to throw his underwear in the shower.
A short time later, the 16-year-old said, he exited the shower and found his underwear hanging from a speaker box. He retrieved his underwear, then noticed Meinel making a video of him with his cell phone. He said he did not agree to be recorded on video or to have the video distributed and was embarrassed by the incident, according to the police report.
“He indicated that although he didn’t want to get anyone in trouble over the matter ... he was disturbed by the video and its distribution,” Leet wrote in the report.
Meinel admitted taking the video and posting it on Snapchat after happening upon the scene, but said he meant no harm to the teenager shown in the video, whom he considered a friend.
“He (Meinel) indicated that he wasn’t trying to embarrass (the 16-year-old) and that he believed they were actually friends,” Leet wrote in his report. “He stated that it was just kind of a funny scene and he sent it out as more of a joke.”
Leet spoke with other students who confirmed that the “horseplay” with the underwear was not done to stage the video taken by Meinel. The officer then told administrators that he considered the creation of the video and its distribution “very serious,” adding that he would be “looking at and considering a request for criminal charges,” according to the report.
Ultimately, Leet asked the district attorney to charge Meinel with the felony he now faces.
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 19:45
Move would pave way for marina district, downtown projects with increased incentives for developers
Port Washington officials are preparing to amend the city’s downtown tax incremental financing district plan to include five additional properties and millions of dollars in development incentives not envisioned when the district was created almost seven years ago.
The proposed amendment, which will be the subject of a public hearing before the Plan Commission on Feb. 16, marks a renewed commitment to the district by city officials who consider it a necessary tool to ensure the downtown remains vital.
It’s also a recognition that many of the projects now under consideration for the downtown and lakefront were not envisioned when the district was created, Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of palanning and development, said.
Among those projects are the Blues Factory entertainment complex and plans by Ansay Development to create a 44-unit luxury apartment building between Pier and Jackson streets just west of Lake Street and a six-story Marina Shores building for a restaurant, store and commercial operations on the NewPort Shores property.
“We really undershot what we would be able to attract in terms of private investment,” Mayor Tom Mlada said. “The incentives in place were not sufficient. Clearly we did not foresee a pretty significant development, for instance, on the NewPort Shores property.
“There has been a pronounced emphasis on redevelopment in downtown over the last four or five years.
The TIF plan amendment calls for adding five properties to the district — the Port Harbor Center strip mall along the north slip, NewPort Shores restaurant and several houses that would be razed for Ansay’s apartment building, Tetzlaff said.
It also updates the district’s costs and revenues, including infrastructure work, remediation of city-owned parking lots in the area, changes to the marina parking lot and increased development incentives.
The city has already exceeded the $750,000 in development incentives originally anticipated when the TIF district was formed, giving $1.75 million in loans to developer Gertjan van den Broek for the Port Harbour Lights retail and residential project downtown and agreeing to $1 million in incentives for van den Broek’s Blues Factory development.
Ansay has said the apartments and Marina Shores developments would require $3.5 million in incentives as well, and Tetzlaff said the city is also including some incentive money for the former grocery store in the Port Harbor Center.
“Nothing’s going to happen there unless there’s some inducement,” Tetzlaff said.
“Very few of these projects would happen without incentives,” he added, noting that land in downtown is more expensive than elsewhere and redevelopment is often pricier as well.
Development incentives are relatively new in Port Washington — Port Harbour Lights was the first project in Port to receive them — but they are a common tool used by communities statewide to spur redevelopment.
In the Village of Grafton, for example, incentives have been used for at least eight redevelopment projects that have increased the value of the downtown by more than $25 million, officials have said.
While incentives are included in the plan, they will only be awarded if the developments they support can repay the loans, officials said.
Tetzlaff noted that the city uses extremely conservative estimates when calculating these numbers to ensure taxpayers won’t be on the hook for development.
A TIF district uses increased property taxes within the area to pay for public improvements that benefit the district. Once those improvements are paid for, the district is dissolved.
The downtown TIF district has paid for a number of public improvements downtown already, including parking lot, alley and street improvements.
When the city’s original TIF district was retired in 2007, it had a surplus of several hundred thousand dollars and much of that money was used for property tax relief.
The city has been considering amendments to the downtown TIF district plan for several years, hiring Trilogy Consultants to help crunch the numbers.
After the public hearing, the plan requires approval by the Common Council and the Joint Review Board, which is made up of representatives of the various taxing districts in the TIF district — the city, Ozaukee County, Port Washington-Saukville School District and Milwaukee Area Technical College — as well as a citizen.
Although the city has talked about amending its downtown TIF plan for several years, it waited until now because it wanted to know what developments were planned, Tetzlaff said.
“We’re just including stuff that’s been proposed or that we know of,” he said.
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 21:43
Port Plan Commission approves complex for adults with autism but not plan for two-story building off Hwy. 33
The Port Washington Plan Commission last week was split in its thinking on a pair of apartment proposals.
Commission members approved a concept plan for a 69-unit apartment building on Port Washington’s west side that would include units and services for autistic adults.
The commission also approved a certified survey map and recommended the Common Council rezone the six-acre parcel at the intersection of Highways LL and 33 to accommodate the plan.
But commission members said they did not like a revised plan by Bielinski Homes for a senior apartment building on Highway 33, saying the building is too large for the site.
The commission was enthusiastic about the plan by Cardinal Capital Management to construct the apartment building and a nearby wellness center for autistic adults on the north portion of the former Highway LL ramp land.
Erich Schwenker, president of Cardinal Capital, told the commission that integrating people with disabilities into a complex that’s open to everyone is the preferred housing option today.
About 15 of the apartments are expected to be rented to people with autism, while students from Concordia University Wisconsin could rent as many as a quarter of the units, he said.
The area to the west of the apartments would be used for walking paths and other outdoor facilities, while a wellness center that provides services to people with autism is expected to be constructed on the southwest portion of the property.
The existing woods would be retained, helping screen the apartments from the neighbors to the west and north.
“The design really fits in well,” said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development. “Everything’s tucked in. They’re preserving the natural areas.”
But commission members were not enthused by revised plans for an apartment complex proposed by Bielinski Homes. Earlier, the developer had submitted plans for a three-story, 27-unit building on the roughly 1-1/2 acre parcel that neighbors opposed, saying it was too large for the land and, since it would be located atop a hill, would loom over their homes.
The Plan Commission had said it would prefer a two-story structure, even if there were more units, and the new plan calls for a two-story, 36-unit building, Tetzlaff said.
The Design Review Board did not like the plan, he said.
“It gobbles up the entire lot with the building and asphalt,” Tetzlaff said.
Based on comments from the Design Review Board, Tetzlaff suggested a compromise that would move the two-story building on the site, downsizing it and adding green space on the north, nearest the neighboring properties.
That, he said, could make the plan more palatable to neighbors and the commission.
The compromise plan would also move the building farther from the gas metering station on the lot just west of the proposed apartments, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, a commission member, said.
“It whistles,” he said of the station. “You can smell the faint odor of the stuff they put in the gas.
“If I were living there, I’d prefer to be away from that.”
Commission member Ron Voigt suggested yet another compromise, saying a stepped design with three, two and one stories would not only break up the facade but also provide a more interesting design.
Commission members agreed that the newest iteration of the plan is too dense for the site, although they said they realize more units are inevitable if the building is two stories instead of three.
“I think the homeowners would definitely want to see them come back with something more along the lines of the (compromise) plan,” commission member Dan Becker said.
“It’s about the best use of the site,” Mayor Tom Mlada added.
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 20:14
Sixty-nine-unit building would provide housing for adults with autism
A concept plan for a 69-unit apartment building on Port Washington’s west side that would include units and services for autistic adults met with approval from the city’s Design Review Board Tuesday.
The building, along with a nearby wellness center where services for people with autism would be provided, are proposed for the former Highway LL ramp land.
Cardinal Capital, which is purchasing the northern half of the ramp land from Ozaukee County, has done a number of projects for people with special needs through the years and was approached by the autistic community to develop a project for them, said Tadhg Mc Inerney, who works in planning and architecture for the West Allis firm. The company looked at properties in Cedarburg and Milwaukee before finding the Port Washington land, Mc Inerney said.
“That’s the greatest piece of land I’ve ever seen ... especially for this purpose,” he said.
About 12 of the units are expected to be built for autistic adults, with special soundproofing, cameras and electronics, Mc Inerney said. The rest of the units would be rented to the general public at market rates.
The area to the west of the apartments would be used for walking paths and other outdoor facilities, he said.
Mc Inerney said Cardinal is working with the Milwaukee Center for Independence, which will provide services for the autistic adults, and Concordia University Wisconsin on the project.
Fire Chief Mark Mitchell, a member of the board, said that while he likes the concept, he is troubled by the building’s proximity to Highway LL.
“I’m concerned about the safety of the autistic residents,” Mitchell said. “It’s 35 mph there, and nobody goes 35.”
Board member Jorgen Hansen concurred, saying a buffer zone between the building and Highway LL may be needed.
“They’re still 40 feet from the curb,” City Planner Randy Tetzlaff noted.
Mc Inerney said the company will take a look at that matter before submitting final plans.
The board also weighed in on a revised plan for a senior housing apartment complex proposed by Bielinski Development on Highway 33.
Residents in the Hidden Hills subdivision objected to the original proposal for a three-story, 27-unit building on the land, saying they feared it would loom over their homes, eliminating their privacy and reducing property values.
The new plan calls for a two-story building with 36 units, Tetzlaff said.
“It’s a much larger footprint,” he said. “It gobbles up the site.”
Board members were concerned about that, saying the new plan is too large for the site.
“I think that (original plan) makes better use of the site than the new one,” Hansen said.
“This would be the biggest two-story apartment building we have,” Mitchell noted.
The Plan Commission will weigh in on both apartment plans when it meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19.