Survey: Geneva Lake watershed development opposed

(Published Feb. 28, 2007, 11:04 a.m.)

Nearly 90 percent of homeowners in Geneva Lake believe that a large residential development in the 29-square-mile Geneva Lake watershed is not needed nor should be encouraged, according to a recent survey conducted by the Fiscal and Economic Research Center (FERC) at UW-Whitewater.

FERC also found that more than 80 percent of those same homeowners surveyed oppose such a development.

"The research demonstrates that households in the watershed play a vital role in the regional economy," Russ Kashian, an associate professor of economics at UW-Whitewater, was quoted as saying in a news release.

The Geneva Lake watershed survey, which included the communities of Lake Geneva, Town of Linn, Williams Bay and Fontana, also found that more than 70 percent of residents believe that the watershed should be protected, even if it means limiting future development in the Geneva Lake region.

"Residents are strongly concerned that any potential for a reduction in water quality of Geneva Lake will have a significant impact on them," Kashian added.

Property owners in the watershed region also expressed a desire for a common vision for the development, zoning and other decisions affecting the character of the area. Nearly half of those surveyed strongly believe that a formal lake management district should serve the interests of the greater community.

"We found that nearly 45 percent strongly believe that conservation development is preferable over traditional larger plat residential development," Kashian said.

"We believe that many, if not most, local citizens want to preserve the small-town and rural Wisconsin flavor of our communities, while accommodating growth when, where and how it will best serve their needs," said James Celano III of the Geneva Lake Conservancy. "Master planning and individual development decisions should put the character of the community and conservation of its natural resources first, not last."

The survey, commissioned by the Geneva Lake Conservancy, was conducted between September and December 2006 and went out to 1,610 randomly selected property owners in and around the Geneva Lake watershed.

The Geneva Lake Conservancy is a nonprofit organization supported by the contributions from people who believe that protecting the nature and history of Walworth County is important. The mission of the Geneva Lake Conservancy is to promote responsible stewardship of the region's land and water resources.

For more information, contact Kashian at (414) 588-1260 or Celano at (262) 275-5700.



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