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Appleton developer settles over project violations

Dustin Block

State charges over illegally filled wetlands bankrupted a planned condominium project in Menasha, according to the developer.

Appleton-based developer Michael Hagans said Monday he was forced to end his Woodland Hills project because of a $150,000 settlement he reached with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

“It’s communism at its best,” Hagans said. “That’s all I’ll say.”

Hagans and contractor Carl Bowers & Sons Construction Co. Inc., Kaukauna, were charged in May 2008 with illegally filling wetlands around the Menasha condo development.

Hagans and the contractor reached a joint settlement with the DOJ over the charges Feb. 24. The DOJ announced the settlement Feb. 27.

The $150,000 settlement includes forfeitures, costs and fees. Hagans and Bowers & Sons also must restore the illegally filled wetlands in Menasha, according to the DOJ.

The settlement amount was typical for the violations involved, said DOJ spokesman Bill Cosh.

The Menasha charges were filed at the same time as other charges against Hagans for failing to get erosion permits for another project in Outagamie County. Most of those violations took place in 2006 and 2007, and some have continued into 2009, according to the DOJ.

The Outagamie County charges involve a 10- to 15-unit residential subdivision on about 30 acres in the town of Ellington, said Tim Roach, zoning administrator for the county. Hagans, Road said, started work on the land without applying for permits or notifying the county.

That triggered an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Charges include illegally building a culvert and an artificial pond without protecting the adjacent Bear Creek, according to the complaint.

“(Hagans) is a very experienced developer,” Roach said. “He just chose to develop without giving us a call.”

Hagans settled the Outagamie County charges at the same time he settled the Menasha charges, according to the DOJ.

Despite the settlement, Hagans can start building homes on the Ellington land once he gets the needed state permits, Roach said. Hagans said he plans to move forward with the project.

Hagans or his companies received seven previous violations between 2001 and 2006 for failure to control erosion or apply for permits.

Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg prosecuted the case. Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge Harold Froehlich approved the settlement.

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