Janesville34.2°

Town wants attorney who specializes in development issues

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Kayla Bunge
February 28, 2008
— Wanted: attorney with expertise in land use, zoning and development in Walworth County.

The town of Delavan has been without such an attorney for about a decade, and town officials wish they’d had some guidance in the midst of large development proposals, such as Sho-Deen’s proposal for 4,770 residential units on the Delavan Lake inlet. Sho-Deen withdrew its plan in April 2007.


“We’ve got good people on our plan commission, but we’re all amateurs; it’s a part-time job,” said Frank Jones, a member of the plan commission for more than 20 years.


Jones said development proposals have put the town in over its head with technical land use and zoning issues.


“We’ve struggled along for most of the time without any legal advice,” he said.


Town Chairman Wayne Polzin said the town consults its town attorney, but he doesn’t have development expertise.


“We should have had one all along,” he said.


The town has talked about contracting with a development attorney for a couple of years in the face of Sho-Deen’s proposal and others. The fact that Sho-Deen still owns 2,000 acres around the Delavan Lake inlet helped move the discussion along, Jones said.


He said the town needed a development attorney during meetings with Sho-Deen.


“We were out-gunned and out-talked during all those talks,” Jones said.


By contracting with a development attorney, the town can be ready if Sho-Deen comes back with a new proposal or if other developers want to build in Delavan Township.


“Now’s the time to … be ready for things down the pike,” Polzin said.


Polzin said the town will have to pay the going rate for an attorney, but that cost will be borne by developers, not by residents.


Town Administrator John Olson sent requests for proposals to Walworth County attorneys and asked them to respond by Friday, March 14. He said the town could interview candidates soon thereafter.


Jones said the sooner the town finds a development attorney, the better.


“That way we don’t get caught with some of these things before we settle on someone,” he said.



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