Local artist and sculptor Joe Kinnebrew returned to Lake Geneva from his new digs in the State of Washington to file suit against one of the most distinguished (except at paying her bills) Town of Linn residents. It would seem that this wealthy Diva has maintained an entire estate strewn with Joe’s sculptures. She allegedly claims that the big metal beauties were gifts. Her conduct is roughly akin to a person standing in front of Wal-Mart holding a bag of stuff with the Wal-Mart logo on it, and claiming that what’s inside was a gift from Wal-Mart. It should be interesting to follow just how Joe’s brilliant attorney attempts to get his stuff back, as the Walworth District Attorney, and the Town of Linn police both decided that the sculptor had to somehow prove he’d actually sculpted the works, and had never been paid for them!
Sometimes, when dealing with some of Lake Geneva’s wealthy part-time resident’s possession is indeed nine tenths of the law. There will be much to follow as this legal case develops, and the public gets to learn more about what hides behind some of the fabulously beautiful facades of Lake Geneva’s hugely expensive lake homes (and what’s sometimes right out in their yards!).
More Comprehensive Plan
The issue over the requested change to the Comprehensive plan reveals a fundamental division within the City of Lake Geneva. A division where the views of the residents appear in opposition to the views held by Lake Geneva’s city officials. Many longtime residents have an emotional attachment to the Hillmoor Golf Course property, that is second only to the lake itself, and they want that property to have a significant part in the city’s future. Newer residents do not yet share the same attachment that local people have to Hillmoor, the lake and the city. Those who have recently moved to the area might realize that they came here because it is a nice place to live, and it’s a nice place to live because of the people who live here, people who are concerned and care about the city, the community, the lake, and that take care to preserve it.
That concern applies across the board, to the rich, poor, those in between the land. Long term residents believe that Lake Geneva is all of the people’s town. It doesn’t belong to the mayor, the city council or city officials. They have the privilege of officially caring for it, and running it, as long as what they do is not offensive to residents, property owners and visitors.
Nothing fills Lake Geneva’s City Hall, or other local town halls, faster than issues that local residents feel will directly affect them, the area, the lake, or its environment. There is a common thread that runs through the lake area. It is a sense of responsibility for our communities to take care of and preserve what we have for our enjoyment, and for the enjoyment of future generations. That is the force that drives those who feel that Lake Geneva is home. The individual arguments may vary, and the points that are stressed may vary, but the objective is the same. That objective is to protect, take care of, and preserve the lake; the shore line; a way of life; and the area’s valuable assets, which includes the Hillmoor Golf Course property.
Also opposed to the changes to the Comprehensive Plan are those who value parks, open space, outdoor activities, and who want to preserve land for future generations. With the present trend of favoring apartments, condominiums and multi-tenant building, rather than single family homes, there will be an even a greater need for open public areas in the future. Even today most land is privately owned so that when you leave your home you may walk on the sidewalks, and cross the streets, but unless you are welcomed into a place or intend on spending money, there is no place to go except for a few public areas. The two groups form the heart, backbone and the spirit of the City of Lake Geneva. They take pride in the buildings and structures, but they view the people of Lake Geneva (past, present and future), and not its structure, as the essence of the city of Lake Geneva.
Those in favor of the Comprehensive Plan change have a different view of the city. They will directly, or indirectly, benefit from a change to the Lake Geneva’s Comprehensive Plan. Their view and support for the change is understandable; however, but that ignores the issues at stake. The financial aspects affecting the city are important, but the Planning Commission’s and the City Council’s, decisions should not be determined by those individuals who will benefit from a change to the Comprehensive Plan. Their decisions should be based on whether or not the city will benefit from the change, and that benefit should be viewed from a long term, city wide perspective. Most people can agree with that statement; however, it is in the definition of the phrase “the city will benefit” where those in the two camps differ. Those who favor the development of the Hillmoor property are city orientated, and place a greater value on appearance, image, growth and financial considerations than those who do not. This view is supported by the financial needs of the city, and by the magnitude of image related city ordinances already in existence that place more control and restrictions on appearances, such as signs, colors, required planting and placing of trees, setbacks, height and openness of fences. Ordinances where the outward appearance of buildings and their visible surroundings are more important, highly regulated and enforced than the internal construction and use of the buildings themselves.
Appearance is important, but it should reflect what is in the heart, not used to disguise or replace it. The City Council and the Planning Commission members must be kept aware that the preservation of the Hillmoor property for the city’s future is at the heart of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The requested change to the Comprehensive Plan removes that heart and gives it to developers. With its heart removed, neither the Comprehensive Plan nor the city will ever be the same.