WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
How did we, and everyone else, miss this vital change to the city’s code of conducting business? The burden of proof has changed for granting or denying an applicant’s request for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from those requesting its approval to those denying its approval. The city has now opened itself up to developers like never before. This change means that an applicant’s request must be approved unless there is found to be “substantial evidence” against its approval where “substantial evidence means facts and information, other than merely personal preferences or speculation, directly pertaining to the requirement and conditions an applicant must meet to obtain a conditional use permit, and that a reasonable person would accept in support of a conditional use permit”.
This now puts the burden of proof on the city council, not the applicant. Whether the city council does not like the applicant’s request to build, for whatever reason, no longer matters. In a manner similar to assuming a person is innocent unless proven guilty, a request for a CUP is assumed that it will be approved unless there is/are “substantial facts and information to deny the request”. This can also shift the cost of that proof from the applicant to the city. At least until the city creates a new CUP procedure that specifies or includes items that will negatively impact the city, tourism, traffic, safety, small-town atmosphere, etc.
The concern with Geneva Plaza Development, Gas Station/ Convenience Store/ Car Wash and Dunkin Donuts with a drive-thru window on Highway 50 near Curtis Street, is a concern for the total safety of its interface with traffic on Highway 50, Curtis Street, that includes traffic safety as it affects those entering, leaving and by-passing the facility during periods of high tourism traffic which was not addressed by the applicant nor included or addressed in the required Department of Transportation’s approval of the merging and passing lanes. There is also concern about how, who and when will this be presented to the Department of Transportation, because that may determine whether or not all traffic concerns will have been presented to the Department of Transportation.
First: The applicant’s documents do not show heavily traveled Curtis Street 200 feet west of the proposed entrance to the Geneva Plaza Development nor mention the church and school at the corner of Highway 50 and Curtis Street.
Second: The fact that summer traffic is so heavy that it backs up from Wells Street to well past Curtis Street on summer weekends was also not mentioned in the request for approval. It is interesting to note that this CUP was approved by the Lake Geneva’s Plan Commission before the CUP law was changed and then it was delayed for 9 months and it was after the CUP law was changed that is was given to the city council for their approval.
So, we now know the reason for the 9-month delay in presenting it to the city council, but that does not change the facts of the safety issues and future development in the area