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What happened in the city council chambers of Lake Geneva on Monday night, where the city’s comprehensive plan was supposed to be read and discussed? It was a travesty and a most interesting example of slippery sleazy political maneuvering of the worst kind.  The comprehensive plan was presented for “reading in” and discussion as item 13 on the council agenda.  Citizens came to offer opposition to three parts of the plan; Hillmoor, BigFoot Beach and Wrigley Drive issues.  What those people got, having come to the lectern one after another for almost an hour (the meeting was very heavily attended, once again), was turned into nothing when the council finally got to item 13 and read the one-liner about the comprehensive plan presented in that agenda.

The one line reads: “13. First Reading of Ordinance 20-01, an ordinance to adopt and update to the City of Lake Geneva Comprehensive Plan.”

The fifty or more citizens in the audience waited for a mere two seconds before Mayor Tom Hartz read item 14.  That’s right, it was over for the night, as far as the comprehensive plan discussion went.  No councilperson said one word about it.  What’s the problem with the ‘reading’ of this comprehensive plan?  There is no comprehensive plan to be read in.  That’s right.  Years ago, the city council passed a procedural rule that did away with actually reading in ordinances in full because it was taking too much time.  In fact, it would probably take about half an hour simply to read the finished comprehensive plan in, if it was read out loud.  That’s if there was a finished plan to read in, which there is not.

Is there something wrong here procedurally and legally?  You bet there is.  If a comprehensive plan existed, with some extra amendments added by the plan commission, and bitterly discussed by citizens earlier in the meeting, then a copy of it should be available to the public, as of the meeting or at least after. There is no copy of anything available. The council decided not to say anything, instead to wait until March 9th to vote on the final document.

Incidentally, the council cannot change anything in the plan at that time, it can only kick the whole thing back to the plan commission for modifications…and the council is not going to do that.  It is now highly doubtful that the council will discuss anything on the 9th of March either.  Why should they?  All they have to do is vote and finally, finally, they can move on to consider closing South Lake Shore Drive that goes through BigFoot Beach, move it inland, and then build a marina where the Maytag Lagoon now sits.  Mr. Pollard will be most pleased.

They can also go ahead and “study” a plan to close Wrigley Drive and take out the road there to make into a park.  That will make Mr. Keefe and Mr. Wolfe very happy indeed.  There are those who want to close the road and then force the sale of the restaurants there in order to put in a big resort. And please don’t forget that the city paid plenty recently to have Roger Rabbit, city planner extraordinaire, come in and plant the seed of an idea to convert the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed downtown library into a hotel.

This is not the stuff of fiction. What will the city council members and mayor do, as the citizenry is not going to be fooled like it has been when other butt-ugly projects were built?  The Frank Lloyd Wright hotel was torn down and a giant ugly edifice was built in its place not too many years ago.  Without a well-informed public showing up bad stuff happens.  March 9th is coming, and citizens have to be there to have impact, and they have to come to that meeting with emotion.  The character and ambiance of this wonderful city are under severe threat and in dire need.

Monday City Council Meeting

Judge Sibbing

Judge Sibbing makes his case in opposition to the Wrigley Drive and BigFoot issues being amended into the comprehensive plan under final consideration by the city council.


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