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On Monday, the 10th day of February in the year 2020, the plan commission and the common council of Lake Geneva met jointly in a grand attempt to approve the revised and much-reviled changes to the city’s comprehensive plan.  This meeting started at six p.m. and, very notably, went on until just before midnight.   The meeting was attended by more than sixty citizens, many of whom spoke for hours about the vehement opposition to the commercial development of Hillmoor, the closing of Wrigley to make it into a boardwalk park kind of area and the vague references to rerouting South Lake Shore Drive and moving the boat ramp from the base of Center Street to whatever BigFoot Beach might become.

The biggest ‘bullet point’ that was passed on to the city council in the plan commission’s acceptance of the new comprehensive plan (with amendments that were made prior to the plan’s passage…which is a procedural violation as the plan should first have been approved and then amended) was that there was unanimous support for pulling the word ‘resort’ from the redefinition of “recreational use” that was proposed by Vandewalle and Associates, the firm putting all the paperwork together.

Many citizens spoke about how inserting the word resort into the comprehensive plan would leave the door gaping open for a developer to build whatever he or she wanted simply by calling whatever was built a resort.  The word resort has never been defined or classified, much less declined, for use in zoning or planning documents anywhere.  Opening up the Hillmoor property to allowing a ‘resort’ to be built would mean that the current owner of Hillmoor could basically build whatever he wanted.  There is still great trepidation out among the public, particularly in those who were gathered in council chambers to voice their concerns about what was going on.  The comprehensive plan is a document that serves as the guiding path for future development of not only Hillmoor but all developable properties in Lake Geneva and some located just on the border of the city.  That Vandewalle and Associates is being allowed to include its recommendations in the final draft of the comprehensive plan is a clear violation of what is intended by the drawing up of such a plan.  Conclusions and guidance are the elements that should ground the plan’s foundations not recommendations from a paid outside entity.  The primary reason that recommendations should not be in the plan at all is that later on, down the road a bit, a developer could claim to be merely following one of those recommendations (if denied the go-ahead on a project).  In a subsequent lawsuit that developer would be favored by the court because the recommendation was part of the comprehensive plan and therefore the developer following the recommendation would be given compensatory sums to make up for the fact that the plan commission and/or the city council was denying something that was already allowed through the inclusion of the recommendation.

The fight over Hillmoor, Wrigley Drive and South Lake Shore Drive is not over, in fact, it has just been joined.  The final draft of the amended comprehensive plan will be submitted for passage to the common council on the 24th of February. It is incumbent upon that part of the roused citizenry to attend that meeting and demand that the word resort, indeed, be left out, as well as the plans to ‘study’ Wrigley and the rerouting of South Lake Shore drive literally killed before being included in the final draft of the comprehensive plan.

Excerpt from Monday’s Meeting




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