I have a very simple process when it comes to deciding whether or not a development should be approved. If the development is needed, and that need can be successfully articulated, I’ll generally consider it. If it’s needed and said development is to be located around similar properties, where densities are similar and price ranges are similar, then I’ll consider it further. If the product looks nice enough to compliment those surroundings, I’ll keep considering it. And if it doesn’t impact the community in any negative way, I’ll consider supporting it. That’s the process. (Note it has nothing to do with what SEWRPC suggests, because I’m smarter than SEWRPC and so are you). Unfortunately, typical development fails on one or all of those criteria. Today it isn’t about generalities, it’s about a development and called Symphony Bay and its desire to become a lake access community.
This development is new. Like brand new. Like not yet ready to live in new. Like bulldozers new. It’s on the outskirts of a commercial district in Lake Geneva, so I’m generally okay with the location of it. If I were a nearby or adjacent neighbor, I’m guessing I’d hate it. But still, it’s a development and it’s okay I suppose. The issue today is not this development, but rather its desire to transform this country-side development into a lake access development. See, the developer owns a small piece of lakefront near the Geneva Inn, and he’d like to build a clubhouse down there for the several hundred future residents of his development to have private access to the lake. This is the issue. And this is why I’m writing today to voice my strong opposition to both this requested conditional use, and to the precedent that it would set.
I don’t know the nuances of this deal. I won’t pretend to understand exactly what rights Linn Township and Walworth County have to stop this sort of key-hole development access. I do know that if the developer needs a conditional use to build this structure, then the township and the county should deny that request, and quickly. The reasons for a denial are quite simple. Any development that seeks to allow hundreds of additional owners a cramped chance at lake access is something that I’d oppose. Now, let’s say there was a condominium on a site and the condominium housed 10 owners. If they want to tear down that condominium to build ten houses, I’d be generally in favor of that. Remember the South Shore Club development battle? The public won that battle, as a developer chose to build 40 high end homes instead of several hundred lake access cottages and condominiums. If we care about this lake, we should seek to prioritize what happens along its shores. Density is our enemy.
The location on the water, near the Geneva Inn, is a location primed for present and future trouble. The Geneva Inn itself is a potential development concern. The adjacent farm fields are another concern. The area features a rare combination of commercial lakefront with large swaths of nearby vacant land. That combination is rare on our shores, creating possible development opportunities both endless and extremely troubling. That’s why the Symphony Bay lake access proposal must be stopped in its tracks. Kill off any hope that this sort of development will be found acceptable to the community, and kill it quickly before these ideas spread.
I’m not sure the best way to formalize a resistance against this conditional use request, but for now it’s a good idea to contact the Town of Linn and urge them to vote against it. There’s a link below that will take you to a community group’s webpage there they’re seeking signatures on a petition. The Plan Commission meeting is March 20th, so please do share this post and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. The precedent that the developer is seeking to set is one that this lake can not abide. The only reason we’re here is because of this lake. We have to protect it. We have to do what’s best not for a developer with visions of lake access profits, but for the community as a whole.
This Plan Commission meeting also features a development attempt on the North Shore of Geneva Lake. The development would create a three lot Certified Survey Map out of the old Born Free Estate on North Lakeshore Drive near Pebble Point. This sort of fancy plat map manipulation was stopped when it was attempted on the north shore of Fontana several years ago, and it should be stopped here as well. The lot appears as though it could easily be split into two parcels, if that’s what the would-be owner would like to do, but three parcels is one too many. Tell the Township to turn this request down.
(This link will take you off of Geneva Lakefront Realty’s website and to a third party site).
Email the Linn Township Planning Commission:
(Disclaimer- I am not affiliated with either project in any way and am writing as a citizen of Walworth County and a concerned Geneva Lake lover).