Steinbach v. Green Lake Sanitary District

Kent A. Tess-Mattner

Case Conclusion Date:June 6, 2006

Practice Area:Real Estate

Outcome:Successful appeal before the WI Supreme Court

Description:Along with co-counsel who referred the case to me for appeal, I reprsented unit owners in a condominium who protested a notice of assessment from the local sanitary district when sewer service was extended to the condominum. The trial court sided with the unit owners, and the sanitary district appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, and I successfully petitioned the Wisconsiin Supreme Court to review the decision. After full briefing and oral argument, the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed with our position and reversed the Court of Appeals. It held in its decision that an availability charge assessed against each condominium unit served by a sewer extension through a single connection from the condominium lot to the sewer was not levied uniformly and imposed an inequitable cost burden as compared with the benefit accruing to the petitioners and to all benefited properties. The availability charge lacked a reasonable basis because: 1) there was no nexus between the availability charge and the district's recovery of the capital cost to it to provide sanitary sewer service to individual lots; 2) other lots with multiple habitable units and were provided the same sewer service through one stub were assessed only one availability charge; and 3) there was no showing that the condominium owners received a greater benefit than was provided to other lots that were affected by the sewer extension. Steinbach v. Green Lake Sanitary District, 2006 WI 63, 291 Wis. 2d 11, 715 N.W.2d 195.