A “three dog night” is not so much about the cold weather, as it is about the Lake Geneva City Council.
The city council has only three options to a Conditional Use Permit submission (CUP):
1.) Approve it.
2.) Deny it.
3.) Send it back to the plan commission for changes.
There is a small exception that allows the city council to make minor changes to a CUP, but not major changes that eliminate or change the requirements or restrictions of the CUP. In a cleverly orchestrated series of moves (detailed at the end of this article), the city council recently circumvented the law, and removed the 10 dog overnight boarding restriction imposed by the plan commission and replaced it with a yearly review, and then approved the Geneva K9 Conditional Use Permit submitted by a local resident. That major change opened the facility up to 40 dogs being boarded in the facility overnight instead of 10.
A 400% increase is a significant increase, like a pay raise from $10 an hour to $40 an hour would be considered a substantial increase in pay. Since the person making the CUP request for Geneva K9 is not the listed owner of the Dog Spot, it raises financial questions regarding who will financially benefit in the financial agreement (subject to the approval by the city council), that orchestrated this maneuver, and then raises questions about whom and why.
The only part that is certain is that those living near the Dog Spot did not benefit, nor did their property values increase because if it. The part that is most bothersome is how the entire council skirted the law to get the Geneva K9 conditional use permit expanded from 10 to 40 overnight dogs. It was a move that overrode a plan commission requirement and ignored the objections of the residents. Adding insult, was that the motion to amend the resolution was initiated by Alderperson Cindy Flower who represents those who live by the dog facility and stridently voiced their objections at the plan commission public hearing. Like the sleight of hand tricks of a magician, it was done in plain sight but not seen, and the 10 dog restriction was replaced with a yearly review.
So, what can be done? Any alderperson who is honest, can, at the next meeting “ask to reconsider his or her vote” because they now feel that the change that was made to Resolution 18-R79 was a substantial change to the resolution and therefore the Resolution should have been sent back to the plan commission. Doing the right thing at one’s personal peril is a path few are willing to travel these days, however. Will an alderperson speak up or will they all remain silent in the next city council meeting after Mayor Hartz reads agenda item #5 and asks: “does anyone wish to re-consider business from the previous meeting?”
Will someone speak up, or will it be so quiet that anyone might hear a dog bark all the way from the Dog Spot on Madison Street? After all, when talking about this extra-legal change the city attorney did not say that it was or was not a substantial change, he said: “I’m not sure that it is substantial…”
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