Wausau pursues Brokaw lawsuits despite court rulings

Wausau officials plan to appeal two lawsuits against the village of Maine that they lost in Marathon County Court.


City officials announced last week they would appeal two decisions, both made by Circuit Court Judge Jill Falstad. One lawsuit claims the village of Maine’s incorporation into a village was illegal because closed session meetings preceding the vote were improperly noticed. The second challenged the cooperative boundary agreement made between Maine, the village of Brokaw and the town of Texas.

Falstad ruled against the first lawsuit, saying that Maine’s actual incorporation was not a result of a vote within the closed session meeting. She ruled against the second lawsuit as well, saying that Wausau didn’t properly noticed Maine or Texas in filing its suit against the state Department of Administration.

Maine became a village and formed a cooperative boundary agreement in order to stave off debt from neighboring Brokaw, which fell into financial dire straits after the Brokaw Paper Mill closed in 2012. The dissolution of Brokaw would have saddled financial liabilities for its town neighbors.

A press release from Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke’s office announced that Wausau would appeal the decisions. The court rulings don’t change the fact that landowners bordering Maine and Wausau didn’t have time to annex their land to Wausau in order to pursue development, the press release says. (A city can annex land from a town, but not an incorporated village). Maine officials are willing to talk to landowners about development, but that likely would involve sewer and water, something much easier for Wausau to provide, city officials argue. The city has nearby facilities, and even upgraded the Highway K and U interchange to make it more amenable to development.

Meanwhile, legal bills are adding up for the city. The city as of May 15 has spent nearly $190,000 on legal fees involving the two lawsuits, not including staff attorney time.