Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lake Geneva's development debate goes public Tuesday evening

The hottest ticket in Walworth County Tuesday night will be in Lake Geneva. Although tickets won't actually be needed, if you want a good seat, arrive early.

That's because Tuesday is when the public hearing for the proposed Mirbeau-Hummel development on Lake Geneva's south side continues.

The first public hearing on Oct. 30 lasted 90 minutes, not nearly enough time to let everyone speak.

This time, the hearing will be held at the Badger High School auditorium, beginning at 6 p.m. and is expected to last two hours

Residents who would like to speak must fill out a speaker card, and speakers will alternate in favor of and against the development. Speakers will be limited to three minutes. Two hours have been allotted for public comment.

The proposal has divided residents of the city, and those feelings will come to a head at the meeting.

The proposal tentatively includes:

-- Residential development of 882 homes, which would be a mix of single-family, row houses, town houses and duplexes.

-- The Mirbeau Retreat would have 100 rooms and 12 villas, a spa, banquet and conference facilities; also 57 single-family cottages, which would be sold to private owners

-- A winery on 25 acres, with vineyard, wine production facilities, a restaurant and related retail

-- Permanent conservation of 375 acres (53 percent) of the site from development

-- Hiking and biking paths for both residents and the public

This is a debate with no clear and easy outcome.

As letters to the editor in this Week's paper illustrate, there are persuasive arguments on each side and significant issues that need to be addressed.

Among this week's letters are two by former Lake Geneva city officials. They've summed up the debate this way:

Robert Flemming, who served as an alderman for 20 years writes that the development will preserve of more than half of the property, generate additional property and room taxes and will follow the city's master plan.

On the other side, former councilman Ed Yeager says don't be fooled, He writes that the development will destroy small city atmosphere, not preserve it.

There are clearly many in the city of Lake Geneva and Linn Township who agree with one side or the other.

Robust debate is the last line of defense to prevent bad ideas from becoming public policy. That's why Tuesday's public hearing is so important.

But this doesn't need to be a "my-way-or-the-highway" decision either.

If the council does choose to approve the rezone, it's important that they come up with ways to address the legitimate concerns of those residents opposed to the project.

How Lake Geneva decides this issue will go a long way in determining the future of the city.


Anonymous Bob Fesenmaier, Lake Geneva said...


I noted in the Nov. 25 copy of The Week that the letters to the editor in favor of the Mirbeau-Hummel project were both from people that have a direct or indirect connection with the project.

Mr. Fleming, some might recall, was involved in promoting the original Hummel project before the annexation, this being while he was an alderman, and apparently his interests haven't changed.

Royce De Bow obviously was doing what he felt his position with the Realtors group required him to do. What other opinion could he publicly state?

I also noted that the only letters opposed to the idea were from concerned citizens, which seems to be the opinion of those who will be most affected by this huge undertaking.

Who knows, this may go the way of a lot of other big projects, and just disappear.

At least the people of Williams Bay were able to get their government body to listen to them.

(posted by The Week 11/26/07)

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Ryan Romanowski said...

Dear editor,

My name is Ryan Romanowski and I reside in Linn Township. I attended the meeting on the Mirbeau-Hummel project on tuesday night at badger high school.

After going there to listen to what people have to say and realizeing that it passed even though over 90% of the people where against it, I came up with a great wayt to keep growth down.

We should have a vote for all projects of this size before they start and make all the people who are in favor of it including the politicians ,to flip for all the taxes that this size of a developement will cause.

The need for a new fire station, police officers, sewer and water , school additions and extra teachers, to name a few.

I work in Illinois and moved up here to get away from all the congestion.

You would think that this area would learn from all the mistakes they made down in Illinois.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Fleming while an alderman also had complaints filed against him with the AG Office in Madison because of his dealing with Hummel when he was in office.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mirbeau Hummel poses a real threat
to the way of life in Lake Geneva.
The citizens clearly do not want
this development. Powerful & corrupt financial forces are at work to pass this unwanted development. Clearly city council
members who vote for it, have been compromised by these forces.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mirbeau Hummel? It is a totally
unwanted Lake Geneva development
only wanted by a developer & his
few bought & paid for city council
members. Elkhorn had the same deal
but that mayor & his pals went to
federal college. Why not learn from
this? Lots of lawyers live in lake
front houses & know whats going on.
Not everyone is stupid.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mirbeau Hummel should consider
developing Lake Forest , Illinois
& not Lake Geneva Wisc , as no one
from Lake Geneva wants it. Really
Lake Michigan is bigger & I'm sure
this is a better fit for the citizens of Lake Forest Illinois.

5:42 PM  

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