Homeowner Can't Access His Garage Without Deal or Rebuild

The lot line between private property and park land means a Muskego homeowner will either need to enter a written agreement with city to access his garage, or possibly tear it down to reconfigure his driveway.

It's a problem Jim Mortle says he inherited, but he may be required to work with the city so he can use park land in order to put his car in his garage.

Another chapter in a dispute that had the Parks and Recreation board looking into just where property lines existed between a lake access parcel and Mortle's private lakeside property ended with little resolution Monday night. A proposal from Mortle requesting a permanent easement was denied by the board. He told the board he had hoped the proposal would end the debate so driving on the asphalt roadway, which is technically park land, wouldn't put him in violation of park rules.

The roadway that is Park Drive continues to the lake and becomes park land at Lake Drive. It is also parallel to Mortle's driveway, and as the lot lines are designated, it allows him only about 15 feet from his garage door before he's on park property. In other words, he has to drive on park land to access his garage.

The Park Board balked at the idea of a permanent easement, saying that it could restrict the city's use of its own land.

"I'm not comfortable with an easement," said board member Jerald Hulbert. "I don't want to give away park land; I would prefer we enter into a written agreement instead. It would still allow Mr. Mortle the access to his property, and as long as he isn't in violation of the agreement, he wouldn't have anything to worry about."

However, Mortle felt that he was at the mercy of the city entering into such an agreement, and that because the property was already grandfathered, he didn't need it. The board's suggestion was to have the city attorney investigate whether Mortle's property really was under such a grandfather clause, and if not, he may have to consider "turning" his garage to face Lake Drive, as his neighbors do.

The when neighbors complained that he was encroaching on the public lake access parcel, and were upset at Mortle's initial offer to purchase a portion of the land. Since then, the city has researched where the lot lines should be, and has considered putting in a yellow stripe on the asphalted portion to delineate the two parcels, as well as reconstructing fencing to make the lot lines clearer.

The board hopes to have more information from the city attorney when it meets again on Feb. 11.

Denise Konkol January 15, 2013 at 02:37 PM
I want to clarify that Mr. Mortle CAN still access his garage and will continue to do so, the city is seeking to codify that it's OK to do so. I apologize if the headline is misleading.
Maximum January 15, 2013 at 04:56 PM
This is absolutely ridiculous! What a waste of time and money. I've lived in this city for 11 years now and I can't believe the pettiness that goes on around here. When it comes to Little Muskego Lakr God forbid anybody wanting to make a change to it or anything around it. We wouldn't want to upset the lake people now would we? It would be absolutely ridiculous to make Mr. Mortel rebuild his garage just so he can park in it. I think the city should refocus on more important things.......like the drug usage in this city. Just how many young people are going to die in Muskego from heroine overdoses before people wake up and realize that we have a serious problem here? Oh that's right.....we'll just brush that under the rug...........
PilawWI January 15, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Actually, the whole story is misleading. Mr. Mortle's predecessor in title got a permit to build the garage more than 20 years ago and Mr. Mortle has been using (and paving and maintaining) enough of this roadway sufficient to access his garage and home since he purchased the property more than 17 years ago. This access way is an extension of Park Drive, was later referred to as a Parkway by the City, and then the City gave road maintenance and oversight duties to the Park & Rec Department, which in turn called it an access lot and park land. The fact is that this public Parkway can be used by Mr. Mortle to access his property without anyone's permission, not only because the City gave the property owner a permit to build the garage and use this public way as access over 20 years ago, but also because the property has likely acquired a prescriptive easement to do so, and it would be plainly unfair for the City to interfere with this access right in these circumstances. This is truly a waste of the City's and taxpayers' time and money, and that's probably what your headline should have been! The Muskego Mom is dead on right.
Denise Konkol January 16, 2013 at 01:50 PM
PilawWI - If you've followed the story, we have clarified the entire issue, which actually has been 50 years in the making. This is just the latest. However, as we've stated these are the possibilities. And, as we've stated, Mr. Mortle inherited the problem, meaning it existed prior to his purchase of the property.
Mary C. Steinbauer January 18, 2013 at 05:36 PM
That particular property was taking advantage for years and it is too bad the new owner was not aware of this problem before he purchased. He would be better off to make an agreement with the city and not worry about owning it


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