Prestwick headquarters a ‘done deal’
Company allowed to build headquarters if it agrees to buy the land

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 14, 2018

LAC LA BELLE — Village officials are admitting they are contractually obligated to allow the Prestwick Group to build its corporate headquarters in the village if the company agrees to buy the village land where the building will be built.

The revelation came during a Plan Commission meeting Wednesday night when Administrator George Stumpf told commissioners they had to adopt an amendment to the village’s Smart Growth plan in order to comply with a development agreement between the village and the Prestwick Group.

The development agreement was approved by the Village Board May 2, following a 90-minute closed session where the trustees were briefed on six months of private negotiations between company representatives and village officials.

Village residents have told The Freeman they were unaware of the discussions between the village and Prestwick regarding the corporate headquarters development on 27 acres of village-owned land adjacent to the Lac La Belle golf course.

On Dec. 19, the Village Board is expected to approve the last-minute amendment to the long-range comprehensive plan — Smart Growth — drafted by Village Attorney Hector de la Mora during the three-hour commission meeting Wednesday night.

Following that meeting, a reporter asked Village President Timothy Clark if the proposed Prestwick headquarters was a “done deal.”

“If they choose to go ahead with it, then yes,” Clark responded.

“It cannot be stopped,” de la Mora later added.

However, he said, the village has the regulatory authority to determine the size, design and architecture of the building.

Stumpf added another caveat: Prestwick must abide by new zoning ordinances that have yet to be written by the village.

Stumpf and de la Mora conceded village officials have been “inconsistent” with village residents regarding changes in Smart Growth.

The amendments will enable the village to provide sewer service to the corporate headquarters, golf course cottages, and residential properties, to be developed adjacent to the golf course, according to village officials.

Residents’ objections

Approximately 17 village residents have objected to changes in the plan during two Plan Commission meetings in the past week, each lasting about three hours.

Throughout the meetings, village officials have told the residents that Smart Growth is a general mission statement that provides a view “from 40,000 feet” of zoning and development policies and is not intended to address specific issues.

Yet, the amendment unanimously adopted by the commission Wednesday night relates to a specific issue and company: the development of a corporate headquarters for Prestwick.

Village resident Kelly Spaulding pointed out to the commission that the most recent version of the Smart Growth plan prohibited commercial development in the village.

“With the exception of golf course operations, the village will discourage commercial development in all areas within the village limits,” according to page 52 of the plan.

“Doesn’t that mean there can’t be a commerce center?” asked Spaulding, who opposes the headquarters.

“She raises a good point,” responded Stumpf.

Stumpf said the golf course and the corporate headquarters are separate entities on separate parcel of lands.

Prestwick manufacturers both golf course and outdoor equipment and furnishings and is presently headquartered in Sussex.

Stumpf urged the commission to amend the plan to allow the headquarters development.

However, some of the residents shouted “no” and indicated they wanted the language prohibiting commercial development left in the plan.

Stumpf explained if the language was left in the plan, the corporate headquarters could not be developed.

He said the village was obligated by the development agreement to permit the headquarters if Prestwick agreed to purchase the land and abides by other conditions of the agreement.

“This is bull s**t,” Claire Tompkins said after the meeting.

She is one of three Town of Oconomowoc residents who have opposed the headquarters.

However, village resident Joe Renner said if the headquarters “is done properly, the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages.”

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