A banquet hall can be a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t really want to live next to one. And you wouldn’t want anyone you cared about to live next to one. Even your worst enemy doesn’t deserve the constant torture of living next to a banquet hall. And you certainly wouldn’t want one in your neighborhood either. A banquet hall gives positive meaning to the term ‘NIMBY’ or Not in My Back Yard. We might like having banquet halls in our community to celebrate special occasions, but even the Bible refers to them as being ” attended with revelry and excess.”
No, Banquet Halls are a business and they’re put in business districts for the reason that they don’t belong in residential areas. So how could it be possible for the officials in Linn Township to revoke a critical portion of the Linn Comprehensive Plan, and Map 2025, composed by the entire Linn community, that was specifically designated to be residential and, instead, switch it to commercial for the benefit of one family–the Schawk heirs who own the Geneva Inn? Now we’re talking about 3 prime lakeshore residential parcels, owned by the heirs to the Schawk fortune, being converted to commercial use on the Linn Comprehensive Map. If this is allowed to stand, the Geneva Inn will get the Banquet Hall on the shores of Lake Geneva that they have wanted since making their first attempt in 2004.
What will the people get?
From the very beginning, the history of the communities on Geneva Lake shows that the residents have consistently opposed commercialization, and supported maintaining the residential only status of the lakeshore. So it would seem impossible for the current Linn government to completely break with this sacred, time honored tradition to entertain the Geneva Inn’s request for the rezone. However, the law being what it is, Linn has no choice, but to consider the matter and to consider it seriously, and objectively. Apparently, The Geneva Inn is telling Linn Township the same story they used back in 2004; that they are not making enough money to keep their operation running, and need more commercial space for banquets. Of course, the fact that they spent $4.5 M since 2004 buying their neighbor’s residential lakeshore property might explain the debt they supposedly have to cover. And considering that the Schawk’s just sold Schawk Inc. last year for $577 M, it seems unlikely that they will be going bankrupt anytime soon.
The Town of Linn has expressed concern about what might happen to the Geneva Inn if the current owners sell. Who would buy it, and what would be put in its’ place? As far as the neighbors are concerned, there isn’t anything worse than letting someone put in a banquet hall, which is what is currently being proposed. Some people in the Town of Linn look at the Riviera Banquet Facility in Lake Geneva, and are envious of its income and popularity. You can almost hear them saying, “we gotta keep up with the Joneses, and get one of those banquet businesses in Linn.” The problem is more one of location, rather than of exclusion. The proposed banquet hall next to the Geneva Inn would be right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The Riviera is isolated out on a pier in the lake. There are no residents to bother, but if you go there on a Saturday night, you can witness some of the other problems that can result even in a dense commercial environment. Guests go outside to smoke. They often drink to excess, and walk out on the pier (safety concern.). And then there’s loud talk, shouting, and even fistfights. The Riviera provides extra security for banquets, but still the police do have to be called in on a regular basis. Aurora University, on the George Williams campus, tried the banquet hall concept a few years back, but dropped it, according to Rebecca Sherrick, once they discovered all the potential problems, from getting insurance, to dealing with drunks, and overcrowded parking. Plus, tents that go hand in hand with outdoor banquet halls can be dangerous, and thus hard to insure. Just two weeks ago a tent collapsed and killed a Wooddale, Il., and seriously injured 20 others. Hopefully, Town of Linn officials have looked at these issues and other problems linked with them. Just the fact that there’s not nearly enough parking now at the Geneva Inn, and much of the parking that is available requires crossing the street just south of the state park, should be a deal breaker all on its own.
How is this “Surprise”
We thank X-files investigative reporter and former Alderman, Terry O’Neill, for this week cartoon, referenceing article published a couple weeks ago. Small Gems, August 5, 2105