Letters to the Editor

Letter to:

Dick Malmin, Town of Linn resident,

from: Jeff Sanders, Town of Linn Community Planning Consultant.

Dear Mr. Malmin,

Thank you for the letter and your comments regarding the Community Mapping Forum. As you’ve heard me state on a number of occasions, a comp plan is intended to serve as a “broad brush” guide to development and preservation efforts. The ‘agenda’ I pursue during this and every comprehensive planning process is to do my best to ensure that the final document represents the goals and visions of the broader community. I try to achieve this by encouraging my clients to offer a wide array of public participation alternatives. Thus far, we mailed a Land Use Survey to every tax parcel in the township, facilitated visioning and nominal group exercises during the Community Engagement Session, hosted five-chapter presentation and discussion sessions, and held the mapping forum, the subject of your letter. Still to come are at least two more chapter meetings, the presentation of the first draft of the plan, and a public hearing. As per the Wisconsin Department of Administration, the agency responsible for administering Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Planning program, “A comprehensive plan is a local government’s guide to community physical, social, and economic development. Comprehensive plans are not meant to serve as land use regulations in themselves; instead, they provide a rational basis for local land use decisions with a twenty-year vision for future planning and community decisions.

You were present during my interview for the Town of Linn Comprehensive Plan update and have attended most, if not all, of the meetings that have occurred thus far. In my proposal to develop the plan I described the exercise held during the Mapping Forum as such: “Cognitive Mapping is a unique two-part process that allows participants to graphically express their desired future for the community onto individual land use maps. The first step involves identifying areas within the town that are deemed attractive, unattractive, desirable, and undesirable. The second phase focuses on the creation of land use maps representing each participant’s vision of the future. From all of the completed maps, composites are created which are then used as one element in updating the Future Land Use Map.” When the subject of the Mapping Forum has arisen, including during my interview and at the August 22nd event, I have described it entirely consistent with the proposal language above. Anyone expecting something other than the meeting that was held was either misinformed or intentionally misled. Though I disagree with the way in which you characterize the meeting I respect your opinion and encourage you to continue to participate in the comprehensive planning process.

Regards, Jeff Sanders

Letter to:

Jeff Sanders from Dick Malmin, in response.

Geneva Lake is today and always has been a miracle of long term comprehensive planning by people in the very upper echelon of the commercial class during the Gilded Age of the later part of the 1800’s. For maybe the only time in their lives these masters of the universe felt the hypnotic power of nature and the enchantment of one of her greatest creations–Geneva Lake, thereby attributing their inspiration coming from their hearts and souls and not their wallets to plan for the future land use around Geneva Lake. Keeping the lakeshore residential and relegating commerce to the cities might seem to be pure and simple planning, but organizing 50 families to all agree to the plan and make it Covenant law took a colossal effort. This decree became our birthright and the ethic that has kept lakeshore development at bay for 150 years and why today Geneva Lake is the envy of every lake community in the country. Does anyone think Hugh Hefner would have built his Playboy Club on the outskirts of the city if he thought he had a chance to build directly on Geneva Lake? Development possibilities become endless once the commercialization barrier is broken.

So, my gripe with you, Mr. Sanders, is the fabrication of the “Current Land Use Map-2017,” which you passed out to the crowd for the coloring and mapping exercise. Because the Geneva Inn is such a small spot on the map, many people attending assumed the red color designation on the map in the area of the Geneva Inn was exclusive to the Inn itself while others realized the red coloring referred to almost all the Geneva Inn properties.

So my questions are:

  1. Is this map that claims to have been created on December 18, 2016 and identified “for planning purposes only,” a map you created or was it the map given to you by the township? On 8/28/2015 the Geneva Inn withdrew its request for a Comprehensive Map Change because the Town Plan Commission decided on a compromise of the Geneva Inn’s request for all residential property to be designated for commercial use.
  2. The Town Board then voted to reject the map changes, so why would the map you distributed reflect a map change that was never approved? Shouldn’t the current map on the Town’s web page have been the appropriate place to start our mapping exercise?

The Geneva Inn also withdrew a rezone request in 2004 for the 14,500 sq.ft. 300+ person Banquet Hall complex they plan to build on the residential lakeshore and attach to the kitchen and restaurant on the west side. We received over 400 letters and signed petitions from Town of Linn lakeshore home owners vehemently opposing any rezoning and commercialization of lakeshore residential property. The owner of the Geneva Inn Clarence Schawk said he had no choice but to respect public opinion because he got so many letters himself from customers that threatened to boycott both the hotel and the Grandview Restaurant if the Banquet Hall project was continued.

Cordially, Dick Malmin

Sign up for Updates