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Couture bill gets panel’s support

A day after a companion bill won approval from an Assembly committee, Senate lawmakers passed legislation Wednesday that would establish Lake Michigan’s shoreline in Milwaukee and pave the way for The Couture.

The Senate Committee on Economic Development and Local Government voted 5-0 Wednesday in favor of Senate Bill 522, which would stipulate that the historical shoreline of Lake Michigan is the same as a line defined in a 1913 agreement between the city and Chicago and Northwestern Railway Co. Having the line set according to that agreement is important for The Couture, designed by Milwaukee developer Rick Barrett, because some critics have contended the proposed site is filled-in lakebed.

Under the state’s Public Trust Doctrine, waterways, even if they are filled in, must be kept open for public use.

Preserve Our Parks, a group opposed to The Couture, has insisted the Public Trust Doctrine bars the development of The Couture. That interpretation has made it difficult to obtain title insurance for the project, which would have a 44-story high-rise building containing apartments, shops and a hotel built on the lakefront.

The 1913 line is east of the proposed site, and if established as the traditional shoreline, would place the site beyond the Public Trust Doctrine.

The Senate committee’s vote came a day after the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Mining unanimously approved the Assembly version of the same legislation, Assembly Bill 655. AB 655 is scheduled for a full Assembly vote at 1 p.m.Thursday.

For either bill to become law, it must be approved by the full Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker.

About Dan Shaw, dan.shaw@dailyreporter.com

Dan Shaw is the associate editor at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at dan.shaw@dailyreporter.com or at 414-225-1807.

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