Attorney Richard Ihrig Files Lawsuit Against Polk County, Wisconsin

Suit Claims County Board Disregarded Its Own Rules in Voting to Allow Motorized Trail Access

CUMBERLAND, Wis.--()--In a suit filed last week in Polk County, Wis., the Polk County Board is accused of disregarding its own procedural rules in voting to allow motorized vehicles on the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail (SSLST). The suit was filed by attorney Richard Ihrig of Cumberland, Wis., on behalf of Peter Henry of Amery, Wis.

“no applicable procedural rule prescribed by...local law can be suspended unless the rule specifically provides for its own suspension.”

Polk County Ordinance 17-16, adopted by the County Board last year, states in Article 3.1.c. that any Board resolution requiring funding must state the amount and source of this funding. However, after a closed-door session on October 17, the Board voted to suspend this financial disclosure rule and then passed Resolution 59-17, beginning the process of “motorizing” the SSLST for use by snowmobiles and ATVs.

As detailed in the suit, the County Board’s rules of order cite Robert’s Rules of Order (RRO) as the “final authority” for parliamentary procedure. RRO states in part that “no applicable procedural rule prescribed by...local law can be suspended unless the rule specifically provides for its own suspension.” Article 3.1.c. has no such provision.

The SSLST, which runs 13.5 miles from Amery to just north of Dresser, is popular for a variety of silent (non-motorized) activities year-round like hiking, biking, running, snow-shoeing and Nordic skiing.

Bill Zager, president of Friends of Stower Seven Lakes Trail, believes the entire community benefits from keeping the trail non-motorized. “The Stower Trail is a wonderful sanctuary of silence where many residents and tourists find refuge from the hustle, bustle and noise of modern life,” he stated. Zager, Henry and others in favor of maintaining its non-motorized status cite the 400+ miles of snowmobile trails and 31 miles of ATV trails already available in Polk County.

Henry explained, “This issue deserves an open, public debate about costs and a transparent decision-making process – not covert maneuvering by the Board in violation of its own procedural rules.” Added Henry, “The Board’s primary fiduciary responsibility is to County taxpayers; this action violates both the spirit and the letter of the law.”

For further information this suit (Polk County Circuit Court Case No. 2017 CV 000311) please contact attorney Richard Ihrig at 715-822-3511.

Contacts

Richard Ihrig, 715-822-3511

Release Summary

In a suit filed last week, the Polk County (Wis.) Board is accused of disregarding its own rules in voting to "motorize" a popular local trail.