The Bright Side
The unspoken problem with the Hillmoor property is the narrow development window of its zoning as restricted by the City’s Zoning map dated Dec.10, 2008 and the city’s Comprehensive maps:
1.) Existing Land Use Map 4, dated Dec. 14, 2009
2.) The Future Land Use Map 5a.
The stated zoning on the city’s zoning Map is PD 9 Planned Development unique to the property; whereas, the comprehensive plan maps list it as private recreation facilities. This makes the only permitted development of the Hillmoor property, a development that is unique to that property, with its use being compatible with the stated use in the city’s comprehensive plan which is “private recreation”. Further complicating these requirements is that the area is adjacent to residential housing and on the gateway into the city, which eliminates developments that are loud, noisy or that lack cosmetic appeal. The financial story of Hillmoor can best be described as making wrong decisions to correct previous wrongs decisions, which got the city into the mess it is in today, which is summarized as follows:
The city was deeded the Hillmoor property as long as it remained a golf course. Back then the Hillmoor golf course, like Library Park still is today, was property that the city did not own, but as long as it is maintained as it was deeded to the city, the city could control, use and run it. The city did not want to run Hillmoor so a quasi-legal city group, analogous to the development corporation, was set up to run Hillmoor and would pay the city a certain amount every year for the use of the land.
There were several members of the group controlling Hillmoor. One member reportedly juggled the books but was caught by the others, and to avoid prosecution he went to a bridge loan company in Hackensack New Jersey to pay off the others who knew. He then started to buy up stock from the other shareholders. In the meantime, the city had changed mayors and the mayor found out that the quasi Hillmoor group was not paying its fee to the city, and that the Hillmoor shares were being bought up. The city, which owned several holes of the golf course, withdrew those holes and effectively closed down the golf course. Then the realtor/development group of Hillmoor was formed as a way to cover the cost of the loan and because it would potentially add tax revenue to the city. The city rezoned the property for development. Although the city also approved the development, it was never developed and the approval ultimately expired. As the property was without income it went into foreclosure and spent several years in the courts before a final decision was made which eventually led to the current owners.
With the city’s passing of the Comprehensive Plan, the possible development of the property has been greatly limited. The problem, since day one, is that the Hillmoor property is a large, beautiful and an extremely valuable gem in the heart of the city. The original owner saw it as such and wanted it to be preserved as a gift to future residents of the city, and the future residents also see it as the gem that it is, and like the donor want to preserve it for the city’s future, and do not want it to be used for a commercial/residential housing development for the current or future profit of realtors and developers. The question that needs to be asked and answered is what developments can meet requirements?
To name a few:
1.) A golf course.
2.) A facility like Old World Wisconsin.
3.) A facility similar to The House on the Rock.
4.) Multiple live shows like those in Branson Missouri.
5.) An art center, which could include gallery space, stages, and/or classrooms.
6.) A casino.
7.) Safari Lake Geneva.
8.) A Water Park.
9.) A theme park.
10.) Indoor Dining and/or outdoor picnic areas.