HILLMOOR RISES FROM BITTER ASHES
Not long ago the owners of Hillmoor sat in stunned angry silence, as a sitting Lake Geneva city council voted against letting them modify the comprehensive plan to suit high-density construction throughout the Hillmoor acreage. The combative Hillmoor management filed suit against the city, after making ridiculous demands for paperwork that bogged city staff down for weeks. There was no real need for the paperwork, except for the fact that the city, when it missed one of the deadlines, was an easy target for a lawsuit. The current owners of Hillmoor didn’t have a chance in hell of winning the ridiculous multi-million-dollar lawsuit they launched against the City of Lake Geneva for failing to give them proper responses to the requests for information they submitted when they felt attacked by the city and not given the kind of rezone and unfettered conditional use permit they sought. But they didn’t drop their lawsuit, which they did late last week, because of that fact. They didn’t attend a hearing and have a judge tell them that their lawsuit was groundless.
Nope. They are selling out, or so rumor has it. They could not sell the property with the lawsuit hanging over it. So out went the lawsuit. Money talks. Now, the residents, landowners, taxpayers and everyone else around Geneva Lake must wait to see what the new owner are likely to do. That property won’t be purchased to turn it into a park, that much is pretty certain. What kind of development are the new owners going to demand as an ROI (return on investment)?
The lawsuit against the City of Lake Geneva was settled on May 2nd of 2019. How many meetings and discussions have the city leadership had, formal and informal, without once mentioning that salient fact? Why would the leadership, both elected and appointed, fail to mention that good news that a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the city had been dismissed? Tom Hartz is a good guy. David Nord is a good guy. Dan Draper (way down at the bottom of his soul’s well) is a good guy. So, why are they acting the way they are acting? When the property is rezoned to meet the needs of a developer, before the property plan is put in front of the council or plan commission, the practice is called contract zoning. Contract Zoning is illegal for a variety of reasons, all of them good.
Now, Hillmoor has reappeared all over the comprehensive plan meetings schedules. Why is that? Has a quiet deal already been cut? If that is the case, (the GSR is investigating), then there will be trouble here in “River City.” The mission of the Geneva Shore Report is not to determine what, if anything, is to be done with the Hillmoor property. The mission is to inform the public prior to decisions being made about what to do with, and/or allow to be done with this vitally important and major portion of Lake Geneva. Dan Draper, the city attorney, had to know about the dismissal of the lawsuit and has said nothing. Did he inform Tom Hartz and then did Tom fail to notify the public? And what about David Nord? He’s the city administrator and a great guy. Did he know? If there is stuff going on with Hillmoor behind the scenes, then the GSR wants to know.
The public has to know or the public will be left out of the decision-making and that is abhorrent to just about everyone (or should be, exclusive of a couple of developers). One of the facts of life the GSR has discovered in its eight years of existence in reporting on lake affairs is that when things are done in secret, by meeting or informal communications, then the results are seldom in favor of the public welfare or good. What’s going on with Hillmoor? It’s about time some of the city officials put their reputations on the line by informing the media, and thereby the public.