EAGLE RIVER - The Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners decided to settle a lawsuit brought forward concerning a violation with the Open Meetings Act, but not without controversy.
At its regular meeting Wednesday evening, the board entered a closed session for the purposes of discussing the lawsuit, which stems from a February board meeting where a handful of people were denied the right to speak during the allotted public comment time listed twice on the approved agenda.
Plaintiffs Alex Protzel, Peggy Lanctot-Kauppi, Carol Meilahn and Phoebe Wienke, all residents of Keweenaw County, and Frank Fiala, a resident of Houghton County, filed the suit with their attorney, Evan Dixon of Hancock.
"(I'll make a) motion that we settle the litigation relative to the Open Meetings Act for $550 for dismissal with prejudice," said chair Ernest Mooney Wednesday. "The insurance company will be paying that $550."
The plaintiffs were not in attendance at Wednesday's meeting.
Via email after Wednesday's meeting, Protzel said he was unaware of a settlement like the one approved by the commissioners on the table and said the plaintiffs are still waiting for a court date.
In a phone interview this morning, Dixon said the plaintiffs neither brought forth an offer, or received an offer, to settle for $550.
"We offered to settle the case, sure, but involving a judge, not a dismissal," Dixon said.
A hearing was set for May 31 but was cancelled. Dixon said the county cannot simply dismiss this case in this manner.
At the board of commissioners meeting in February, Protzel stood during the offered public comment time in order to raise concern about a cellphone tower being erected on Brockway Mountain.
Tired of listening to comments about the issue, which had already been decided by the county's Zoning Board of Appeals, the board refused to allow Protzel, and anyone else in attendance to speak out against the cell tower.
"We're in a situation where we don't feel the Open Meetings Act was violated," Mooney said in March.