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The current members of the Lake Geneva Plan Commission have been charged with being at the center of the building whirlwind that has become the Hillmoor development debate.  That commission has become divided right down the middle over what is to be done as, time and again, the issue of commercially developing Lake Geneva’s last great chunk of open real estate has been argued, concept plans commissioned (paid for by the city!), and many citizens have attended to offer opinions about what they might want done with the space.  Currently, the private owner of the property remains silent about what he might want to do.  He’s been mad as hell, ever since the city thwarted his attempt to have the zoning changed from recreational to commercial, well over a year ago.  Not one hair, nor bit of his hide, of this owner (Fitzpatrick), has been seen since he departed council chambers with his attorneys in a red-faced huff, at that time.  But his minions have been madly at work, obviously, or the Hillmoor development alternatives to accomplish getting the zoning changed over to commercial from where it is, would not be brought up just about each and every month since he bolted back to downtown Chicago to lick his wounds.

There are three plan commissioners who are ardent fans of Mr. Fitzpatrick, or give every impression of being on his adoration committee, as well as on the commission. Those members are Mayor Tom Hartz, city alderperson Doug Skates, and Mr. Stanczek.  Opposed, by votes (vote after vote, really, since Mr. Hartz will not let this issue die) are commissioners Escaro, Gibbs and Krajovic.  William Catlin is the other commissioner.  He has not shown for the last three commission meetings dealing with the Hillmoor usage issue.  The plan commission, incidentally, cannot modify much of anything in the way of recommending action to the city council (the city’s ultimate decision-making body), including the city’s zoning regulations or changes to the plan without having a majority vote in favor of such action.

The three to three deadlock has prevented any changes being made to allowances for anything with the property other than leaving the area the way it is currently zoned.  There was a lawsuit, (a frivolous lawsuit by the current owner of the property).  He filed a lawsuit for tens of millions of dollars on some technicality about not having received a proper and thorough enough response to requests for information he felt entitled to.  That lawsuit was pulled, with the understanding that it could be resubmitted to the court.  The insurance company for the city indicated verbally that Mr. Fitzpatrick and the city had come to an amicable agreement and would proceed to work to come to a complete agreement.

Is that agreement, the one that’s only been mentioned and never detailed or written, what this whole deal is about?  Are some of the city’s elected and appointed leaders part of a confidential agreement to make sure the city does not get sued again by giving this Chicago titan of shopping center development what it is he has wanted from the beginning?  Whatever the mysterious reason that so many of the city’s representatives would sit night after night listening to citizen after citizen rail against changing the zoning or the plan to accommodate this property’s commercial development, there has to be something at the bottom of it.

By the way, if such a deal has been struck, by members of the city’s leadership and Mr. Fitzpatrick’s company, to change zoning and allow development, then that would be a felony on their part, if not more than one.  If there is a deal and there is secrecy about it, then that would be the reason for the secrecy.  But what, other than naked fear, would be the motivation for proceeding into such rough white waters?  Interesting, is it not, that Mr. Fitzpatrick’s shell company (LLC, of course) is called White River Holdings.  Escaro, Krajovic and Gibbs.

The Three Musketeers. They are united and hanging tough against massed and powerful forces.

City of Lake Geneva Council

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