Lac La Belle to amend Smart Growth for Prestwick
Village Board approval expected this month

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 7, 2018

 Lac La Belle Village Administrator George Stumpf holds up the village’s long range comprehensive plan during a Plan Commission meeting Wednesday night while village resident Terri Kearney questioned why village officials were not being more transparent about changes in the agreement and posting them on the village’s website.
Kelly Smith/Special to The Freeman

LAC LA BELLE — Village officials say they are going to amend Smart Growth — the village’s long-range comprehensive plan — to accommodate construction of a golf course and corporate headquarters despite the objections of more than a dozen residents who attended a Plan Commission meeting Wednesday night.

For nearly three hours, approximately 17 residents peppered commissioners with questions about why and how village officials were going to amend the plan to help implement a development agreement with the Prestwick Group.

The agreement calls for the reconstruction of the former Lac La Belle Golf Course and the possible construction of a corporate headquarters for the company adjacent to the golf course located near Pennsylvania Avenue. The Prestwick Group is a family-owned company headquartered in Sussex that generates more than $200 million in revenues annually in the manufacture of outdoor furnishing and equipment for corporate clients, including prestigious golf courses and luxury resorts around the world.

Village officials have defended the agreement, arguing that Prestwick plans to develop a high-end, financially viable golf course that will provide a valuable tax base to the village.

According to the agreement, after the company completes the golf course, it may build a corporate headquarters and event barn adjacent to the course.

However, some village residents have complained they were given little or no opportunity to comment on the agreement, which was privately negotiated between village officials and representatives of the company before it was approved by the Village Board following a 90-minute closed session in May.

Wednesday night, citizens accused village officials of failing to be transparent about the development agreement and not providing on the internet public access to the proposed plan amendments and public notices and minutes of meetings.

The residents were told they had a week to submit their objections in writing before the Plan Commission was expected to approve the amendments at a Dec. 12 meeting.

Village Administrator George Stumpf explained to the commission that its approval of the amended plan is necessary, so the Village Board could approve the amendments at its Dec. 19 meeting.

The village must approve the amendments by the end of the month, so the documents can be turned over to Oconomowoc for its approval.

SEWRPC approval necessary

The village and city must approve the plan amendments in time for the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Plan Commission (SEWRPC) to review them by Feb. 19. Otherwise there could be a three-month delay in SEWRPC’s approval of the plans, according to Stumpf.

The SEWRPC approval is necessary so Oconomowoc and Lac La Belle can expand their sewer services areas, so Oconomowoc can provide sewer service for the golf course and corporate headquarters, according to Stumpf.

The sewer service, which Prestwick will pay for, is a requirement in the agreement between the village and Prestwick.

However, village officials concede that construction of the golf course and stormwater improvements are behind schedule and Prestwick has yet to provide the village with plans for the event barn and corporate headquarters.

“This whole thing seems like a very slippery slope,” resident Gail Bryant said during the meeting.

“It could be,” responded Stumpf.

“But I am working with a village board that is committed to this project because they believe it is in the best interest of the community,” he added.

However, resident Virginia Pease argued the village had failed to follow state law in amending the plan.

She argued village officials should have engaged in extensive public participation for revising a plan and listed several issues that she said should have been included, but are absent, from the village plan.

Stumpf responded that the plan is being amended in accordance with state law and its primary purpose to meet SEWRPC’s requirements to expand the village and Oconomowoc’s sewer service area.

Village Attorney Hector de la Mora told the residents the village is not required by state law to post the amendments on the internet.

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