Smart Growth to be changed for Prestwick
Headquarters expected to be approved

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 18, 2018

LAC LA BELLE — The village’s longstanding policy of prohibiting commercial development, except for a local golf course, is likely to be reversed this week by the Village Board.

Village trustees are expected to amend the comprehensive long-range plan, called Smart Growth, to allow the development of a corporate headquarters adjacent to the golf course for the Prestwick Group.

The Prestwick Group generates an estimated $200 million annually manufacturing outdoor furnishings and golf course equipment for resorts and golf courses around the world and is headquartered in Sussex.

The amendments were recommended by the Plan Commission despite objections raised by about 17 village residents attending commission meetings on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 Some say they are opposed to the corporate headquarters. Others have objected to what they say is a lack of transparency by village officials about a development agreement between the village and Prestwick and amendments to Smart Growth.

Dec. 12 vote

Village officials initially said the amendments were not intended to address specific zoning and land use issues and were being made to gain approval from the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Plan Commission (SEWRPC) for expansion of sewer services to the proposed corporate headquarters.

However, a Plan Commission vote on Dec. 12 changed the village’s policy toward commercial development.

Language prohibiting commercial development was deleted and language was added allowing construction of the corporate headquarters adjacent to the golf course along with cottages for overnight golf accommodations and nearby residential lots for development.

Some of the residents at the meeting shouted “no” and indicated they wanted the language prohibiting commercial development left in the plan.

However, Village Administrator George Stumpf explained the corporate headquarters could not be built without the amendments.

He said the village was obligated by the development agreement to allow Prestwick to build the headquarters if they abided by conditions in the agreement including purchasing village land on which the headquarters would be built.

Village officials have argued the rebuilt golf course along with the corporate headquarters will provide the village with a significant increase in its tax base.

In addition, according to village officials, Prestwick has agreed to install stormwater ponds that will help reduce stormwater runoff into Lake Lac La Belle.

However, village residents Virginia “Ginny” Pease, Kelly Spaulding and Mike Findley have complained the village failed to provide details about the proposed amendments.

Some residents have told The Freeman they were aware of — and did not object to — Prestwick purchasing and rebuilding the golf course. However, they said they were not aware of the corporate headquarters until the village approved the development agreement in May.

After nearly six months of private negotiations with Prestwick, the Village Board approved the development agreement following a 90minute closed session.

Law regarding amendments to long-range growth plan

It appears the village failed to abide by state law amending Smart Growth.

According to SEWRPC, municipal officials must provide a written plan for public participation, hold public hearings, post notices of the public hearings 30 days in advance, and distribute the proposed changes to the public and neighboring municipalities.

Village officials concede they have not distributed the amendments to neighboring communities, held a public hearing, or prepared a written public participation plan.

However, Village Attorney Hector de la Mora argues the village has followed “the spirit of the law” by holding two Plan Commission meetings, distributing the plan to residents, and allowing residents to submit verbal and written comments on the amendments before they were adopted by the commission and recommended to the Village Board.

<<EARLIER: Prestwick headquarters a ‘done deal’