Just Say No To New Developments

Just Say No To New Developments

Just Say No To New Developments

A recent article told of the plans that developers have for the old HIllmoor Golf Course parcel in Lake Geneva. On this topic there has been much debate. What should come of this run down property that guards the Eastern entrance to our city with so many weeds? Should we develop or shouldn’t we, should it be commercial or shouldn’t it? Thankfully, the developers made a pitch to the city that concluded with, “No lake, no deal”. Good thing, because now we can so no lake, which will force their hand to say no deal.

But it isn’t really a lake they want, it’s a pond.  They think this will matter to the vacation home owners that they seek to someday sell to, but it won’t. That’s because I think developing Hillmoor is a bad idea, and it won’t work. There’s another development underway just to the East and South of that Hillmoor property, and it’s another large residential development. Guess what? That probably won’t work, either. There are still rumblings of Hummel’s land and rumblings of rezoning for the Geneva Inn. None of it really matters because none of it will work. They are all different developments, all seeking different zoning classifications, all looking for approvals and handshakes.  But the common theme that runs through all of these developments is that they’ll all, in one way or another, fail.

Someone posed an interesting question over the weekend, after the horrible atrocity committed in Paris. The question wondered what good could come of allowing Syrian refugees into these United States. The answer was met with mostly crickets, but some shouts of inclusion! Kindness! Peace!, etc and etc. The point of the question was that the possible downside eliminates and renders meaningless that small chance at an upside. I feel the same way about these developments. What good comes of allowing them?

While Madonna attempts to love terrorism away, I have no interest in loving developments away. I just wish they’d leave us alone. That’s because the last rush of development is still unfinished. There are developments in Williams Bay, Prairie View and Baily Estates, both born of the last housing cycle, both still offering unsold lots, or resold lots, both littered with vacant parcels. Why, if there’s a great demand for new development, would the old developments sit unsold? Shouldn’t there be buyers clamoring at these cheaply erected gates? Shouldn’t prices be soaring if we’re already looking to replace something that hasn’t yet been consumed? If I go to a buffet at an all-inclusive resort and load up my plate with food, this is shamefully acceptable. But if I load up my plate, return to my table, eat one piece of fish, then return to the buffet and load up my plate, this is frowned upon, even in the anything-goes world of low priced all-inclusives.

But, but, the Hillmoor property might have a lake! So what? Who cares? Not potential buyers, that’s for sure. That’s because potential buyers seeking to reside on a small  pond can go to Geneva National, where they have ponds aplenty. Or they can go to Lakewood Estates where we have a 75 acre lake- no pond at all. Or they can go to any one of the other small lakes in the area and get their fill of pond life. A large scale Hillmoor development won’t work, pond or not, and it has nothing to do with my feelings about development, it has to do with very simple theories of supply and demand.

We still have ample supply, and it isn’t endangered. If you want to build a vinyl house, you have loads of options here. If you wish to work in town, send your kids to school in town, then we’d love to have you. We have myriad housing options for you, ranging from the basic to the splendid, ranging from vinyl ranches on hills to palatial lakefront estates. We have every segment filled. Yes, to be fair, we are missing the segment of basic house backing up to the highway facing a pond, but I’m betting that segment is awful small.

All of that begs the answer to the original question: What good do these developments bring? What is the point of adding more full-time residents? Is there some great economic benefit, aside from the municipality’s lust for additional tax dollars? Is there some benefit to forcing population expansion of small resort towns? Of course there isn’t. Lake Geneva is an exclusive sort of market. It isn’t for everyone. It is for full time people who want small town living. It is for vacation loving people who want to boat over clean water and walk a deciduous shoreline. It’s for people who want to experience a small town that’s big on personality. That personality changes when mass development comes knocking.

That’s why I don’t really care what the development is, I just care how big it is. If Hillmoor wants to sell off 20 lots, all large and ample, I’m all for it. Commercial properties along the road, residential in back. Perfect. If any one of these other developments, both proposed and approved, wish to provide high caliber housing options that number few, let’s rejoice. But if these developments wish to flood our market with inventory and introduce new, boring, properties to the market, I say no. We don’t need any more boring housing because we haven’t even finished our last round of boring housing and everyone at this table is feeling pretty full.

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