Guard it well, for it is far more precious than money…once destroyed nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.
The Geneva Inn has been on a fairly quiet guerilla quest for the past 12 years, feverishly trying to buy as much lakeshore property around Buttons Bay as it could. This is all residential property located around the inn. They offered to buy the lakeshore property at N1991 S. Lakeshore Dr., and encouraged the owner of that property to try to persuade his neighbors to sell their lakeshore property, as well as the neighbors next to them. There is nothing wrong with that. The Geneva Inn did purchases several parcels of developed land, and then recently made an offer on the lakeshore “McMansion” overlooking Buttons Bay, including all the rental piers and mooring spots. Add these residential properties, together with the business property it already owns, and that adds up to well over a 1000 feet of lakeshore. This might lead anyone to wonder what kind of venture the Geneva Inn has planned for such a huge stretch of the lakeshore.
- It has been revealed that in the past, the Geneva Inn wanted to develop the Lakeshore area just past Big Foot Beach and as far west as possible, into a type of Commercial Development District. Or as it was called then: ” The Enterprise Zone.” Strip Mall Zone might have been a more accurate descriptor at that time. Negative public opinion, championed by the Amazing Grace Hanny, in the form of personal letters in opposition, and over 400 Protest Petitions against the re-zoning of lakeshore Residential property, poured in to the Geneva Inn Management Team. The result was that they put a hold on their commercial expansion of the lake ambitions, until there was a less militant atmosphere in the community about preserving the residential lakefront, and a Linn Town Government more sympathetic to furthering business and commercial interests, than to implementing the “will of the people” as declared publicly in the Town of Linn’s Comprehensive Plan.
Governments, whether national, state or local all jealously guard the powers they have. However, in 1999, Tommy Thompson, then Governor of Wisconsin, signed into law one of the most important and progressive laws ever enacted in the state. This was the Wisconsin Comprehensive Planning Law. And it was historic, because it gave the right and the power to the people to direct the land use planning in their communities. What was once at the discretion of a few unelected officials and Town/City Representatives (who were often influenced by developers, and people of local power) was now put in the hands of the people. The Comprehensive Plan requires public participation in its formation, so it represents what the people want– their desires, vision and goals, so it’s truly the Peoples’ Plan. If a land use decision is not consistent with the plan, either the land use decision is not allowed, or the plan must be amended. Any amendment must first allow citizen input, ensuring public participation in changes to the plan. Thus the people’s plan law is intended to remove the arbitrary, subjective, and unreasonable treatment that sometimes existed in past zoning decisions. Plus it prevents special treatment of any one-property owner to the detriment and rights of adjacent property owners.
Can the Town of Linn disregard both Wisconsin Law, and the its own Comprehensive Plans, to give in to the demands of the Geneva Inn to re-zone their three residential lakeshore properties for commercial exploitation, without first making the necessary changes to the Comprehensive plan?
Yes, they can, but will they?
The Town of Linn planning meeting has been cancelled.
Did the Town of Linn cancel the meeting because the county zoning officers, Matt Weidensee and Nick Sigmund are refusing to “play ball”? Because they did not give permission, and permit the Geneva Inn to raise-up portions of the 75 foot restricted shore line area an extra 6 feet, needed in order to build their pavilion/tent on the Residential property they own next door. The Geneva Inn’s attorney, Mr. Torhorst (2nd Story Torhorst, allegedly), is arguing that the Geneva Inn did the very same thing a few years ago when building a patio dining addition to the Grandview Restaurant.
So why can’t they do it next door?
In fact the Geneva Inn did that building in violation of the shore land law.
The county guardians of the shore line, Weidensee and Sigmund, are going to be a little more than troubled when they discover the plans submitted by the Geneva Inn for the re-zone are less than accurate. In the plan they claim to have sixty-five usable parking stalls in the current Geneva Inn Parking lot, plus four additional for motorcycles. The truth is it’s fifty-four usable stalls, two handicap stalls and maybe four motorcycle stalls. But the real kicker is that they neglected to account for the parking for the forty ‘plus’ boat slips and buoys they rent. Where would additional people, and their guests, using a new structure supposed to park? The Geneva Shore Report notices such seemingly “minor discrepencies.” All the citizens living around the lake and the lakeshore must work together to protect the lake. Just as our forefathers did over a 100 years ago when they organized the entire community to sign a covenant to keep the lakeshore totally residential, with no commercial or business activity permitted other than a marina or two.