OPINION: Why aren’t Fowler Lake Village MOU issues at heart of Common Council debate on Fowler Lake Village?

OPINION: Why aren’t Fowler Lake Village MOU issues at heart of Common Council debate on Fowler Lake Village?

In the past officials said not honoring Worthington Apartments MOU could create legal, financial and credibility problems   By Malcolm McIntyre Publisher, OCON2DAY Trying to follow and understand the workings of government is difficult, which unfortunately creates a disconnect between those who govern and those who are being governed. A case in point. In 2010, the City of Oconomowoc and developer Robert Felker signed a memorandum of understanding that, while not binding, said the parties agreed to proceed with what is now the Worthington Apartments complex on Wisconsin Avenue. Involved was the swapping of land owned by Felker on north Main Street and city-owned land on Wisconsin Avenue. Memorandums of understanding are designed, according to Oconomowoc Mayor Jim Daley, as a statement of intent and as a vehicle for giving both parties an indication that if a development moves ahead, baring unforeseen circumstances, the development will gain all the necessary approvals required for completion. Daley has repeatedly said that in the past developers were reluctant to build in Oconomowoc because they were not confident that their efforts would produce results. Enter the use of MOUs. Back in 2013, several Common Council members, notably Cathleen Slattery, the former District 3 representative, objected to the swap and how it was conducted (mostly behind closed doors). She suggested the city would be better served by not honoring the MOU signed with Felker. That prompted Daley and City Attorney Bill Chapman to forcefully counter that while the City could back away from the MOU, doing so would probably result in an expensive legal battle between the city and Felker. Daley also suggested that...