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City of Lake Geneva denies Mirbeau's claims

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Kayla Bunge
August 22, 2008
— The city of Lake Geneva has denied allegations that it “acted maliciously” toward Mirbeau of Geneva Lake, which is half of the former group that proposed the Mirbeau-Hummel development.

The response filed Aug. 14 in Walworth County Court denies the city deprived Mirbeau of its rights when the city asked voters whether the city should approve the rezone request and general development plan.


Mirbeau on July 25 filed a lawsuit against the city, the mayor and members of the city council seeking more than $29 million in damages.


The Mirbeau portion of the former proposed 710-acre development on the city’s south side included the Mirbeau Retreat, a 100-room boutique inn with 12 villas, a spa, banquet and conference facilities and 57 single-family cottages.


Raymond Pollen, the attorney representing the city, declined to explain his “legal theories” behind the city’s denial.


“I don’t think that it really helps the city or the named parties, including the claimant, to litigate the issues present in the press,” he said.


The city is seeking a dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Mirbeau as well as attorney’s fees and other costs associated with the lawsuit.


Among the arguments in the city’s response is that city officials are immune from suit.


Pollen said state statutes provide for the immunity of municipal officials. The law, he said, was created with the intention of protecting municipal officials from people “who are trying to hold them personally responsible for their decisions.”


“They should feel free to serve without feeling like they can be successfully sued by a litigant who’s not happy with what they’re doing,” he said.


Pollen said Mirbeau’s claim that its due process rights were violated “seems to go against” its petition for the court to deem illegal the city’s denial of the rezone request and general development plan.


“The court has the right to review a case … but the court doesn’t have the option to say, ‘I disagree with their decision and I’m going to institute a new decision,’” he said.


Pollen said because the city’s actions were legislative in nature, Mirbeau cannot ask the court for a different action.



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