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
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
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
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
“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
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.
<<EARLIER: Lac La Belle to annex land for Prestwick
<<EARLIER: Lac La Belle trustee predicts no Prestwick headquarters