Lawsuit puts use of building on hold

Local News

A lawsuit filed against the city of Delavan and some City Council members by the former owner of Johnny M’s Tavern may be blocking use the building. has learned there is interest to re-open the bar under a new name and ownership.

“I cannot comment on anything due to the pending litigation and attorney client privilege/confidentiality,” says City Attorney David Frundt.

The council voted last March to terminate John Martin’s lease to operate his bar in the building owned by the city.

Council members also approved a motion to revoke Martin’s liquor license if he did not pay his monthly fee.

In his suit against Mayor Kevin Walker and councilors Christopher Kruse and Daniel C. Haugh, Martin disputes the amount of monthly rent he has been paying the city and whether he has violated any law or ordinance.

Martin says the city alleges inaccurate and unproven allegations of violations, some dating as far back as 2015, as reasons for terminating the lease. Frundt would not say what some of the violations were.

The current five-year lease between the city and Martin ends on Dec. 31, 2022, unless it is terminated for cause and a 60-day notice is given.

During their Aug. 9 meeting, the council and Frundt went into closed-session to discuss Martin’s lawsuit.

When the meeting was re-opened to the public, a letter from Walker, who was not in attendance, was read to announce his resignation effective Sept. 1.

Attempts to contact Walker to comment on why he is resigning were unsuccessful.

Frundt says Haugh, who is the vice-mayor, will run and conduct meetings until someone is put in office after Sept. 1.

“An election will be held for the mayor position at the next general election for the city. That should be next year,” says Frundt. “It is possible for the city to hold a special election before that. But, no decisions have been made yet on how to proceed, as the resignation is not yet effective.”

According to court documents, the city has filed its own suit against Martin in an attempt to have him evicted. A hearing scheduled for Aug. 6 was canceled and has been rescheduled for Oct. 12.

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