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John A. Kassner

Attorney
  • Office:
    • Madison

      10 East Doty Street
      Suite 900
      Madison, WI 53703

  • Telephone: (608) 661-3969
  • Fax: (608) 316-3199

John A. Kassner, a Shareholder in the Madison office, has a statewide practice focused on protecting the constitutional and legal rights of property owners dealing with government in complex litigation and appellate work in these areas:

  • eminent domain, involving:
    • highway and road projects
    • gas pipelines
    • high voltage transmission and power lines
    • park projects
    • billboards
    • sewer and water projects
    • urban renewal projects
    • blight removal projects
    • redevelopment projects
    • mass transit, commuter rail, light rail, street car and trolley projects
    • avigation or overflight easement near an airport
    • shoreline protection or restoration projects
    • wetland protection or restoration projects
    • floodplain protection projects
  • inverse condemnation
    • land
    • residential building
    • commercial building
    • farm building
    • industrial building
    • billboard or sign
    • driveway
    • access to a road
    • stormwater detention or retention basin
    • parking lot
    • landscaping
    • permanent easement
    • temporary easement
    • change of grade
    • rails to trails
    • private street
    • marketable sand, gravel, stone materials
    • lumber
    • crops
  • regulatory takings of property
  • property rights
    • the applicability of TRANS 233 or TRANS 231
    • highway setback requirements
    • loss or modification of boat docks, wharves or boat houses
    • loss or modification of bulkheads
    • loss or modification of riparian rights
    • denial or modification of subdivision plat or certified survey map (csm) or condominium issues
    • denial or modification of zoning permits
    • denial or modification of building permits
    • denial or modification of conditional use permits
    • denial or modification of legal non-conforming use rights
    • condemnation of private streets
    • loss of driveway or access to public streets

John has recovered compensation in excess of one million dollars for numerous clients on eminent domain, regulatory takings, property access and inverse condemnation claims. John has the negotiating, trial and appellate experience needed to protect property owner interests or to obtain just compensation.  

John has argued many cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the Western District of Wisconsin and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (See representative cases). He has represented the Wisconsin Builders Association and the Wisconsin Realtors Association® before the Wisconsin Supreme Court on cases involving land use, riparian and property rights issues.    

An active member of the National Association of Home Builders, John currently serves on the NAHB Litigation Oversight Group and on the NAHB Legal Action Committee. He is the Wisconsin Alternate Associate National Director to NAHB and a Life Director of the Wisconsin Builders Association. He was an active participant in the Joint Legislative Council’s revisions of Wisconsin’s Condominium Statutes in 2000. 

Representative Cases:

  • Eberle v. Dane County Bd. of Adjustment, 227 Wis.2d 609, 595 N.W.2d 730 (Wis. 1999). Successfully represented property owner in temporary regulatory takings case filed under Wisconsin Constitution. 
  • Wisconsin Builders Ass’n v. Wisconsin Dept. of Transp., 2005 WI App 160, 285 Wis.2d 472, 702 N.W.2d 433. Successfully represented 11 separate trade associations in challenge to the validity of TRANS 233. Court of Appeals ruled that WisDOT had improperly attempted to regulate land divisions by certified survey map, condominium plat or boundary adjustment. In a subsequent circuit court action we filed, court invalidated all of the 1999 and 2001 amendments to TRANS 233.
  • Olson v. Town of Cottage Grove, 309 Wis.2d 365, 749 N.W.2d 211, 2008 WL 2220920, 2008 WI 51. Successfully represented land developer before Wisconsin Supreme Court, overturning a trial court determination that the developer lacked  standing to raise as-applied challenge to validity of local ordinance compelling compliance with a transfer of development rights policy. 
  • State v. Outagamie County Bd. of Adjustment, 2001 WI 78, 244 Wis. 2d 613. Appeared as amicus curiae for Wisconsin Builders Association in successful challenge to DNR rule prohibiting granting zoning variances for deviation from flood plain basement elevations. On basis of arguments raised by his amicus brief, Supreme Court requested second set of briefs dealing with those arguments, and granted amicus curiae its own time for oral argument on issues raised therein.
  • State ex rel. Ziervogel v. Washington County Bd. of Adjustment, 2004 WI 23, 269 Wis.2d 549, 676 N.W.2d 401. Appeared and participated in oral argument as amicus curiae on behalf of Wisconsin Realtors  Association®. Participated in oral argument on time ceded by Ziervogels. Supreme Court accepted our argument that area variances should be considered pursuant to a far more lenient standard than that which is applicable to use variances.  
  • Town of Rhine v. Bizzell, 311 Wis.2d 1, 751 N.W.2d 780, 2008 WL 2582744, 2008 WI 76. Appeared and participated in oral argument as amicus curiae on behalf of Wisconsin Realtors Association®. The Supreme Court invalidated a town’s zoning ordinance that established a zoning district with no permitted uses and in which everything was a conditional use under an ordinance that only had health, safety and welfare as standards for approval.
  • ABKA Ltd. Partnership v. Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, 255 Wis.2d 486, 648 N.W.2d 854, 2002 WL 1611602, 2002 WI 106. Appeared and participated in oral argument as amicus curiae on behalf of the Wisconsin Builders Association, using time ceded to it by the Wisconsin Realtors Association®. The Court of Appeals had accepted the DNR’s contention that boat docks did not constitute real property and that they could be taken, at any time, without the payment of just compensation. We argued that riparian rights constitute property and that the taking of such property compelled just compensation. The Supreme Court did not affirm the ruling of the Court of Appeals that boat docks do not constitute property. To the contrary, it affirmed that boat slips appurtenant to residential condominiums do constitute part of that property. It effectively dodged the question by concluding that the condominium documents creating the ABKA dockominium were statutorily defective, permitting the court to avoid answering the question.


Published Works:

Results:

  • Residential land, Dane County - Successfully argued to Wisconsin Supreme Court that County’s refusal to issue a driveway permit constituted a compensable temporary taking. Negotiated settlement for $150,000.
  • Agricultural/Commercial land, Dane County - Obtained a stipulated settlement in an eminent domain action that exceeded WisDOT’s initial award by $1,557,748.
  • Residential land, Pierce County - County refused to act upon a series of certified survey maps in order to coerce a dedication of land to which it was not entitled. After obtaining a court order compelling approval of the certified survey maps, and after obtaining a second court order holding that the refusal to approve those maps constituted a temporary taking for which just compensation was owed, the county agreed to pay $1,400,000.
  • Residential land, Barron County - Because applicable shoreland and road setbacks overlapped, the County refused a variance to allow construction of a residence on a lakefront lot. Contending the refusal worked a total taking of the parcel, brought suit alleging state and federal constitutional takings of the parcel. After the County unsuccessfully attempted to remove the case to federal court, it reversed its position and issued the requested variance.
  • Agricultural/residential land, Dane County - In an eminent domain partial takings case, obtained a jury verdict that exceeded the town’s initial award by $239,000, and also recovered litigation expenses in excess of $460,000.
  • Private streets, Kenosha County - In an eminent domain action on behalf of the owners association for a commercial subdivision, WisDOT took a number of private streets in order to make them public. Obtained a settlement that exceeded the initial award by $400,000.
  • Commercial land, Kenosha County - In an eminent domain proceeding, WisDOT took lands from a retailer in the commercial subdivision referenced above. One consequence of the WisDOT project was that parking on the commercial parcel, which had not been subject to a setback requirement from a private subdivision street, found itself in violation of local zoning setbacks after the private street became a public street. Secured a modification of the city’s zoning ordinance providing that the setback ordinance would not apply to nonconformity caused by an exercise of eminent domain. Obtained a settlement that exceeded the initial award of $73,000 by an additional $450,000.
  • Commercial land, Brown County - In an eminent domain action brought by an owners association for a commercial subdivision, WisDOT and a local sewer district each took a portion of a stormwater detention pond owned by the association. After first determining that the outlot was not needed by the subdivision, negotiated a settlement that exceeded the initial combined awards of $50,000 by an additional $590,000. The owners association was able to convert the outlot to a saleable commercial lot.
  • Commercial land, Brown County - In a related eminent domain action, WisDOT took a portion of a second stormwater detention pond from a second outlot to the same commercial subdivision. After first determining that the detention pond was larger than needed for the subdivision, negotiated a settlement that exceeded the initial award of $50,000 by an additional $805,000.
  • Agricultural/commercial land, Walworth County - WisDOT sought to condemn a small portion of a 200+ acre parcel located at what would become a full diamond interchange along a bypass of a community in southeastern Wisconsin. The owners resided on the property, operated a business and farmed the balance of the land. Under the proposed taking, the entire parcel would have only a small access to a road, in a corner of the parcel. That corner of the parcel was cut off from the rest of the parcel by a creek that the owner would be unable to cross with a public street. Without road access, those lands would not be developable commercially. As part of the resolution, WisDOT agreed to construct a driveway for the client, which was to be built to county road standards. Negotiated a purchase back from WisDOT of the existing dwelling so the owners could move the building to a different location on the property. Secured relocation benefits for the residence and farm buildings of $126,347, also recovered relocation benefits for the business of $140,000. 
  • Commercial land, Oneida County - WisDOT revoked a number of driveway permits it had unilaterally issued 42 years previously to a number of property owners, and announced its intention to close a number of commercial driveways onto USH 51. Obtained a declaratory judgment ruling that the permits WisDOT was relying upon were invalid and that these driveways could not be taken by revoking those permits. 
  • Residential land, Dane County - In an eminent domain partial takings lawsuit, obtained a settlement that exceeded the initial compensation paid by WisDOT by $450,000.
  • Commercial land, Kenosha County - In an eminent domain partial takings lawsuit, successfully argued that the taking of access to the property had worked a total taking. WisDOT had initially paid compensation of $47,800.  Obtained a negotiated sale of the property for $2,600,000.

Representative Presentation:

Practice Areas:

Education:

  • University of Wisconsin, J.D., 1972
  • University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1969

Bar Admissions:

  • Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

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