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THE EMPTY DONUT HOLE

Dunkin Donuts still can’t get its’ act together.  The city council, on a 7-to-0 vote (yes, that was seven to nothing!) rejected and sent the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application from Geneva Plaza Development, Gas Station/Convenience Store / Car Wash and Dunkin Donuts, with a Drive through Window on highway 50 near Curtis Street, back to the plan commission. The plan commission’s approval was contingent on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s approval of the merging and passing lanes, and even with that requirement it was barely approved with a three-to-two vote with Mayor Tom Hartz, Doug Skates, and Karlovac the only three who voted for approval in the plan commission meeting, which took place in May 2018.

Then, despite the nine-month delay since the plan commission’s contingent approval, the Geneva Plaza Development still did not include in its 150 plus pages of documents and traffic studies the required approval of the Department of Transportation. So, who put this on the city council’s agenda without that required approval? In the meeting, every resident that spoke opposed approval on multiple grounds from safety, congestion, problems, and omissions highlighted in the development’s own traffic report, the commercial versus residential balance of the neighborhood, it’s conflict with the stated purpose of the city’s master plan, the city’s small-town atmosphere, and as a resident living in that area stated a similar development for the same spot had already been denied a few years earlier.

The only people to support the issue were those from firms being paid by the Geneva Plaza Development. The sitting members of the current city council pushing for approval have been pressured by both Mayor Tom Hartz and City Attorney Dan Draper.  The words those two gentlemen chose to speak, and the patronizing tone they spoke in, were a throw-back to the times when the council meetings were reigned over by the “Good Old Boys” on every decision. A transcript of the words recorded on video (even without the sound) should make the pressure obvious, and highlight a misstatement regarding the required Department of Transportation’s approval which was never secured.

In any case, a hearty “thank you” should be said to the city council members for their united “No” vote on this issue.  The days of Mirabel Hummel, when that company was able to successfully sue the city because it was able to somehow get the plan commission and city council so confused and unsettled that millions were lost, are truly gone.  This current city council is not about to ignore the needs, wants and desires of the community, and they proved solidly that they will not be browbeaten into doing so, either.  Dunkin Donuts may eventually find a place in Lake Geneva’s fast-growing culture and city, but to do so they are going to have to fit in.   Lake Geneva is not going to fit around them, as much as everyone seems to love the coffee and the company itself.

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