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Last week the plan commission met and discussed a new plan committee “community gathering” idea, and then voted to try it out. It seems that the development of the Hillmoor property hasn’t been isolated and then considered for the kind of development that might be allowed there. One commissioner thought up the idea of having a Hillmoor specific meeting wherein the citizens and other interested parties might be notified of the meeting by more traditional means (postcards, articles in the newspaper and even radio advertising) than the way the meetings were conducted for the comprehensive plan (which is going on at about the same time period as Hillmoor is being considered).

The comprehensive “town hall” kinds of meetings were not very popular in turnout, it was decided, simply because the only place that the meetings were posted was on the Lake Geneva website. So many older people are excluded when web advertising is the only place they can receive information. Many older people do not have access to the web, and even among those people who do have access, so many won’t read all the detail necessary to find out when and where city meetings are held. The plan commission voted unanimously to have this special community gathering meeting (except for mayor Tom Hartz, who emphatically voted no) and then promptly sent the action over to the finance committee for its approval and funding. However, that committee voted it down, unanimously, including Doug Skates, who voted for the gathering at the plan commission meeting (yes, he sits on both committees) a few nights earlier.

At the plan commission meeting Mr. Skates was an enthusiastic supporter of this gathering, but then, only a few days later, voted it down. Is there any rationality at all to what these elected officials are doing these days? The idea of the community gathering has come and gone like a fox in the henhouse, with about the same effect. There are Hillmoor feathers strewn everywhere and people who might want a pastoral scene to encompass that entire area…well, there are going to be some sincerely disappointed members of the community and those members are likely to begin showing up in numbers, much larger than the silent majority (which does not exist) at council and commission meetings on into the future. No mayor or alderperson has been recalled in quite some time in Lake Geneva, but the Hillmoor property may be the flint that finally strikes the spark to begin a spate of such recalls. Also, the Friends of Hillmoor is funded and is likely to file lawsuits as this situation becomes more critical.

The Friends of Hillmoor is not a collection of penniless potheads with liberal tendencies. They are well-heeled, educated and most live in lakefront homes. Hillmoor is not going to go the way of Mirabel Hummel, as that debacle of a nightmare (the city’s insurer got handed the tab for 3.5 million bucks) played out just as the Geneva Shore Report was becoming a newspaper, and well before the ability of the public to use the previous trimming (3.5 million dollar dollar haircut!) as a primer for how to handle such behavior in the future. This Hillmoor routine is a template studied from the Mirabel Hummel mess. They sued. They settled in secret (only the supposed city attorney has ever seen the settlement!) and contract zoning was a big part of that. They settled the lawsuit and the city walked away. The insurance company did not.

Here we are again. The city is sued for a huge amount. The lawsuit is withdrawn. The secret communications begin. The property will be rezoned. Nobody will be the wiser. Except the GSR was not here last time…but it sure as hell is now.

Featured Image: Shari Straube, trying her heart out to prevent the ruinous development the mayor, the city planner and city attorney are dead set on putting into place on that beautiful land, called Hillmoor.

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