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BACK TO THE FUTURE

The delaying of the comprehensive plan vote until next year is not about doing things the right way, but an old fashioned political attempt to assure the outcome of the eight-member council vote by deferring it to a more favorable time. When will the final vote on the comprehensive plan actually occur? There were three options for the dates discussed. The first date passed by a vote, so option one was scheduled and the third remained as a backup date.

That first vote opportunity was to be before the end of 2019, but that date has now been dropped because the mayor knows that the Hillmoor map change would have failed if voted on in today’s spirited resistance movement atmosphere against Hillmoor’s development. The next optional date, now selected, is set to be January 27, 2020, after those who will be running in the spring election will be known. This will give the leaders a glimpse at what the composition of the next city council may be. By January 27th the mayor, city attorney and other city officials will decide if the chances for passing a comprehensive plan with a map change for a residential/commercial use of Hillmoor will be better with the current (or lame duck) city council before the election, or have a better shot with the new council after the election. If it looks like the current council in January will not approve the Hillmoor map change, then the leaders will decide, and convince the city council, to wait until after the spring election, and let the newly elected common council make the decision.

In politics, timing is everything. Instead of trying to bully the comprehensive plan map change through the city’s common council (as the mayor and city attorney tried to do all summer and failed), the leaders have adopted this new strategy to avoid defeat. Although it is illegal to have a straw poll to see how the city council will vote, as was done in the past when the city was considering annexing Grand Geneva around 2010. However in the case of the Hillmoor vote, a straw poll is not needed, since one can be pretty sure how members will vote based on comments that they have made, no straw poll is needed to realize what the outcome of the vote, would be today.

So, rather than face defeat, and the consequences of that defeat, Mayor Tom Hartz, with the majority of the city council (but not the 2/3 majority required to change the comprehensive plan), have adopted a delaying strategy for better timing.  It is being sold to the public as “doing things the right way.” It is simple, however, the old lawyer trick of delay and delay and delay until the opposition can be worn down and does not show up.  So to speak, the strategy is; “if you can’t win today, then you delay and delay until you can win tomorrow.

If the leaders let Hillmoor be commercially developed, then the Indian burial mounds on the Hillmoor property, like the Northwestern Train Depot, will cease to exist when it comes to ambiance, beauty, and culture on that property. If Hillmoor goes the way of the train depot, the city will also have lost its small-town atmosphere and meld into that of a suburban atmosphere, which is what the developments on the east side of the city make that part of the City of Lake Geneva look like.  Tourism hype works for a while, but if expectations of that hype are not met, then a return to an ambient culture is unlikely.

A vibrant peaceful and safe small town that serves as a break from that normal suburban life is what the Lake Geneva area is, and represents to Chicago area residents. More development does not add to a small-town atmosphere, it takes away from it. The more the city looks like the suburbs that tourists live in, then the less likely they are to come here or return.

 

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