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Top 10: Murrs 'will remember this year for the rest of our lives'

Donna Murr joined Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, and Gov. Scott Walker during the Nov. 27 bill signing of a law lifting restrictions on town of Troy land. Photo courtesy of Donna Murr

Editor's note: This story is part of a series recapping the top stories of 2017. Read the other top stories here.

On the surface, there's not much out of the ordinary about the Murr property.

There's an aging cabin hugged by trees sitting back from a beach along St. Croix River shoreline. Murr family members spend summers there enjoying barbecues, holidays and, like others along Cove Court, general leisure time.

In fact, the most notable developments surrounding the Murrs' property didn't even happen on site in 2017. They happened in Madison and in Washington, D.C.

"The Murrs will remember this year for the rest of our lives," said Donna Murr, the family's de-facto spokeswoman and Eau Claire resident. "It was a continuation of the roller coaster ride we started 15 years ago, but in 2017 it came to a glorious end."

Land-use issues surrounding the town of Troy property went to the highest court in the nation this year. After U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled against the Murrs, their cause was picked up by a lawmaker who led an effort to change the law that stymied the family from the beginning.

"I will never forget the day we learned the Supreme Court's decision as it was the same day I received a message from Rep. Adam Jarchow telling me he would fix the injustice done to our family through new legislation," Murr said.

The law change reversed the Supreme Court's ruling and lifted restrictions that kept the family from selling one of two adjoining land parcels on their town of Troy property. Murr said in spite of the change, there are no immediate plans to sell that investment parcel. The family still plans to fix up the cabin — as it intended to when the saga began in 2002 — but possibly through a different funding source, she said.

Donna Murr offered the following account of the year in her own words:

"The year began in anticipation of the scheduling of oral arguments in our case, Murr v. Wisconsin. How many American families get to go before the United States Supreme Court to have their case heard? On March 21, we had 21 Murrs sitting before the high court. While the outcome we received in June was disappointing, the experience was amazing, humbling and awe inspiring. We received so much encouragement and support, and in most cases from complete strangers.

"Then, just four months after the unfavorable ruling, the Wisconsin legislature passed the 'Homeowners Bill of Rights.' This new bundle of laws includes provisions which basically reverse the Supreme Court's decision for Wisconsin residents. It is now unlawful for the government to merge commonly-owned properties without the owners permission.

She continued: "We started the year in hopes of a favorable Supreme Court decision, and ended the year with new Wisconsin legislation to strengthen property rights for everyone who owns property in Wisconsin.

The Murrs will remember this year forever as we made a positive impact for our family and as well as our friends and neighbors in the Badger State."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

(715) 426-1072
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