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From precisely seven p.m. through nine-thirty p.m. on Monday night the Town of Linn Plan Commission set out to demonstrate that it is indeed one of those rare bastions for local American politics of the most extraordinary kind.  The commission sat with Alex Palmer, Tom Gardiner and Peter Borgo to the left, with Maureen Zimmerman and Cully to the right.  Jim Weiss commanded the center, and command he did.  The commission played out to a nearly full house of local citizens and property owners who showed up to watch and participate in what was to happen with respect to a healthy chunk of lakeside property owned by one of the largest owners of vacant land left along the shores of Geneva Lake.  The plan, put forward by a Keefe real estate agent, was to take a chunk of the huge parcel and convert some of it into residential off-lake lots with a community pier filled with boat slips for the owners. This practice has come to be known as “keyholing,” and is being fought by many lake resorts whereby people not living on-the-water property get the same rights by owning a small slice of it; with a boat slip-pier.   This practice of “keyholing,” as it spreads, allows too many boats to gather atop a body of water not large enough to support them.  Gary Duham presented the case for allowing the subdivision and spoke in support of the “keyholing” practice.  Half a dozen nearby residents, and other citizens of the Town Linn, showed up to oppose the plan.

For a variety of small reasons, and one big one (that being stopping the practice of “keyholing” in Town of Linn), the applied for permit was denied by unanimous vote.  That the Grunow family, and its huge trust, would be so overwhelmingly denied was a shock to everyone.  After all, the family is pretty terrific, as family’s go, and it did provide the Town of Linn with a wonderful park for free years earlier.  But the evening wasn’t done.  The often applied for rezoning request by an already built gun club was resubmitted for passage, as the evening wore on.  All kinds of citizens stayed to speak against the potential for sound pollution so close (300 yards) to residential homes, the dangers of having high-velocity rifles fired with schools located within maximum range of the high-velocity bullets (3000 yards to Reek Elementary) and finally, and maybe the killer of the rezoning approval, was the fact Mr. Crandall, the owner, had built 15 things on the property already, without pulling one permit to do the work.  Mr. Crandall is a building contractor by trade, by the way.

Maureen Zimmerman voted to approve the rezoning.  Her logic was that if these violations were not fixed by a rezone then the poor guy (Mr. Crandall) would have to tear the stuff he’d built illegally down and pay huge fines.  She also said that if Mr. Crandall was denied, then everyone else in the township who had illegal structures would have to be checked into and brought to justice.  Mr. Palmer indicated, after Maureen’s rather ridiculous argument, that if they did not take action to punish such offenses then why have a plan commission at all?  Cully Pillman, the other vote to allow the rezone, piped in to save his mate on the right.  Cully indicated that the man (Mr. Crandall) owned the property and he should be able to do whatever he wanted with the property he owned.  One would have thought that Mr. Palmer would repeat the same comment he said to Maureen, but instead, he just leaned back and smiled.  Mr. Palmer is one cool cat.  Cully went on to say that a failure to rezone would result in Mr. Crandall being able to file a lawsuit against the town.  Mr. Palmer could not keep quiet on that one.  He told Cully that the plan commission was, indeed, the legal body that was put into place by Town of Linn to do exactly that; approve or disapprove of rezoning requests.  Palmer, Gardiner, Borgo, and Weiss shot the rezone down.

Maybe Myrna, one of the women who came to speak against the rezone and the building of gun club near the town center, said it best when she spoke: “these people came here to put one over on the hicks out in the country.  Well, I may be a hick, but I’m not stupid.”  Myrna is not a hick, or if she is, then she’s one of those rare ones that Norman Rockwell, if he was alive, would love to draw, and then write at the bottom of the painting: “Wonderful American Woman.”


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