HILLMOOR, A RAY OF HOPE…
Michael Krajovic, the newest planning commissioner, the unknown, the new guy, the person not seemingly qualified to honestly sit on the plan commission, but selected by Mayor Tom Hartz anyway. This guy stands up without leaving his seat, and he proved that by stepping right into the heavy current that was flowing through the council chambers on Monday night. The plan commission seemed all set to sit and listen to a presentation of the first draft of the city’s modified comprehensive plan. That comprehensive plan was created ten years ago and is now up for renewal and updating, which will determine what kind of development, and where that development might be situated, in Lake Geneva on into the future.
The young lady from Vandewalle and Associates took the podium, spent several minutes preparing her powerpoint presentation and then began that presentation with these words: “the Hillmoor development will experience a change of use under this new plan…” and then the battle began. Comments from the public had ended moments earlier so nobody in the audience (significant again, at sixty or so people) could say anything, other than taking in a huge collective gasp of air.
“Say what?” was whispered, but not loud enough to evoke the mayor to chastise anyone. The comprehensive plan presentation had been touted as a collective effort of the public, the city’s leaders, the city planner, the plan commission and the consulting firm. It was not, supposedly, to be presented in the first draft as a template for the commercial development of the Hillmoor property. The battle was joined from an unexpected quarter.
Michael “Kojak” Krajovic, asked his first question: “Would there not be a place in the process wherein the public might be offered a better opportunity to give its opinion and ideas on the development of Hillmoor?”
The young lady had opened up a field of fire, only to discover that Kojak had not come to the game unarmed. He drove successive points home, about how the fact that the city had scheduled gatherings to accomplish gaining the public’s opinion and support over the months before, but only by advertising the meetings on the city’s website. He pointed out that most citizens almost never check the static and boring city website (the GSR editor added the static and boring part here). The mayor bobbed and weaved and then called on Doug “Howling Mad” Skates to support him in fending off Kojak, Ms. Esarco, then Mr. Stanczak, and finally Mr. Gibbs. The retreat was on. The plan commission stampede was underway. It took Howling Mad Skates only minutes to become “Quiet as a Church Mouse” Skates.
In the end, it was Doug Skates, unlikely subaltern to Michael Krajovic, the new Lake Geneva Sir Lancelot, who proposed that they proceed with Kojak’s idea and really do it right. Postcards must be sent out. The press must be alerted, ads to be taken out, organizations one and all notified, and the El Deguello must be played until the opposition surrenders (oh, sorry, that song was played at the Alamo).
The motion was then voted on, and passed unanimously, except for Mayor Tom Hartz voting no, confirming that the Hillmoor property must have a community meeting where the public can once and for all give its opinion on the property’s future, before October 9th. Nothing else can be done about the comprehensive plan until that hurdle has been successfully leaped. The Vandewalle people went on to report all the 170 pages of elements they want to see as a part of the new comprehensive plan, but the attention was gone from the audience. Hillmoor is the single largest chunk of green space left in the city and there is no sense proceeding with anything about the lessor parcels until a final decision about Hillmoor is made.