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Jury rejects Delafield dam claims

WAUKESHA  - A Waukesha County Circuit Court jury has unanimouusly  rejected the claims of six City of Delafield property owners who sought more than a million dollars in damages from 92-year-old Margaret Zerwekh because she followed orders from the Department of Natural Resources and drained a dam mill pond on her property along the Bark River.

The department ordered the wooden flood gates removed on the dam owned by Zerwekh in July of 2008 because officials were concerned about the safety of her home and the lives and property of residents down river following heavy rain storms in early June.

The neighbors asserted that the sediment that remained after the pond was drained created a nuisance that was contributing to the loss of real estate values on their homes. In addition, they said they had suffered the loss of the enjoyment of living on a mill pond.

They accussed Zerwekh of failing to maintain the dam and refusing help from neighbors and the City of Delafield in repairing the dam.

However, the jury ruled the neighbors were not entitled to access and the benefits of the pond. The jury also determined Zerwekh was not responsible for the nuisance created by the sediment which did not pose a significant financial loss to the neighbors, according to the verdict.

The neighbors had also objected to Zerwekh's plan to remove, rather than restore or repair, the more than 170 year old steel and wooden dam spillway structure. DNR has issued a permit for the removal of the dam but has not yet set a date for the work to begin.

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