Janesville71.5°

Mirbeau-Hummel gains slim win

Print Print
Kayla Bunge
November 28, 2007
— The Lake Geneva Plan Commission on Tuesday night narrowly approved moving ahead with the proposed Mirbeau-Hummel development on the city's south side.

After two more hours of public comment and nearly three hours of questioning, the commission voted 4-3 to rezone the 710 acres from rural holding to planned development and to approve the general development plan for the land.


Plan commission member Fritz Button said the plan allows the city to control how the land is developed. But plan commission member Don Rutkowski said the development is only the “tip of the iceberg.”


More than three dozen people spoke at the public hearing, which was a continuation of a hearing that started with 90 minutes of comments Oct. 30.


Those who spoke Tuesday in favor of the development agreed that the proposed plan allows the city to control its growth through one developer over the next 15 to 20 years.


“The options are very, very slim,” Paul Swatek said. “It’s not going to remain vacant farmland. So do we want a developer who will come in and give us … a really comprehensive plan, or do we want 10, 15 or 20 small developments?”


But those who spoke against the development said there are better uses for the land, such as converting it to a wildlife preserve or even expanding Big Foot Beach State Park.


“Preserving the land as a park and wildlife center benefits everyone except outside developers,” Anice Machado said.


Others against the development—what Stuart Mathison called “Lake Geneva South”—said the project would take away Lake Geneva’s small-town charm.


“Do we want to maintain and preserve the small-town character … or toss it to the side and become someone else’s vision?” he said.


A few people even suggested the plan commission put the issue to referendum.


“Each and every citizen should have the right to consider the facts as presented,” Grace Hanny said. “Wouldn’t it be terrible for the Lake Geneva government to say they didn’t ask voters what they thought about the proposal?”


Button, Dennis Lyon, Alan Kupsik and Mayor Sheldon Shepstone voted in favor. Alderman Gary Dunham, Thomas Hartz and Rutkowski voted against.


WHAT’S PLANNED

-- The Mirbeau Retreat would have 100 rooms and 12 villas, a spa, banquet and conference facilities and 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


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


-- Permanent conservation of 375 acres


-- Hiking and biking paths


WHAT’S NEXT

The rezone request and general development plan go to the Lake Geneva City Council for consideration Monday, Dec. 10.


If the city council gives the Mirbeau-Hummel project the go-ahead, the developer will need to draft precise implementation plans for each phase of the development. Each plan will need approval from the plan commission and the city council.


Construction on the first phase of the development, which includes the Mirbeau Retreat and the winery, could begin as early as summer 2008.



Print Print