July 22, 2014 | 09:37 AMBLOOMFIELD — Ten people want to rezone the former Honey Bear Farms property, N1612 Powers Lake, but they don't own it.
They're neighbors of the property, which is owned by the Eugene Edward Martin Jr. Trust.
The Honey Bear Bay land is the site of a project that the state and the village had put on hold in June. Numerous trees were cut on the site — and off, according to at least one neighbor. The tree cutting and other actions prompted complaints to the state's Department of Natural Resources and the village of Bloomfield from several people, as well as the Powers Lake District.
On July 11, the neighbors filed a petition to rezone the 1.75-acre property from R-4, which allows multi-family dwellings, to R-1, single-family.
Click here to read the rezone request.
Mary Adams, one of the petitioners, said in a July 17 email the rezone request is unfortunate, but necessary.
"For 22 years now, we have cherished the beauty of this community and supportive relationships with the people of Powers Lake," she said. "Then, an out-of-state developer bought this gorgeous lakefront property in December of 2013 and massacred it. He also cut down trees on his neighbor's property. All without permits."
On the morning of July 17, architect Eugene Martin, of Naples, Fla., was contacted by phone.
Martin answered a few questions, then when asked about his plans for the land, said, "It's none of your (expletive) business," and let loose a string of profanities.
That afternoon, he emailed a statement about the work that was done on the property.
Martin denied that he cut down someone else's trees. He said he obtained an interior demolition permit and has state-approved plans for three townhouses on the property. A story that includes his statement also appears in this week's Regional News.
As to the rezone request, Martin said on the phone that only the property owner can request a rezone. He said he's not seeking to change the zoning. He asked, if residents were so concerned about what happens on the property, why they didn't buy it.
Bloomfield Village President Ken Monroe, who also is chairman of the planning and zoning commission, said he's never received a rezone request like this before.
"We're going to sit down with an attorney and go over this," he said, when asked how they will proceed. "I think there will be a special meeting. There should be one, let's put it that way."
There was supposed to be a hearing July 15 on a certified survey map request by the Martin trust. The agenda for the hearing states the trust wanted to combine two lots into one, raze the existing residence and "erect seven individual units."
Then, the trust withdrew that request.
"We just decided that, at this time, we're fine with the property as it is," said Martin on the phone.
The village of Bloomfield Planning and Zoning Commission cancelled the July 15 hearing.
"It surprised me because, the withdrawal, we received it probably four to five hours before the meeting," said Monroe.
The request being withdrawn doesn't change the motivation behind the rezone request. Adams said there are other reasons they filed the petition.
"We also continue to be vulnerable to development of this land, which was used as a single-family home for the last 25 years," said Adams. She said the annexation of the village of Bloomfield — which includes this area of Powers Lake — created a change in density requirements.
The village's definition of R-4 allows four units per acre, said Adams.
"Under Walworth County, it was always one dwelling per 40,000 feet, but because of our annexation in December of 2011, we have lost that requirement."
She feels that's an oversight by village officials.
"Nobody could have guessed that annexation would result in this issue, and we are hopeful it will be corrected by the village."
In June, the village placed three conditions in order for Martin to obtain approvals needed to move forward on his project.
• Install a silk fence for erosion control, which has already been done.
• Clean up the property.
• Obtain a village-approved landscaping plan that calls for planting more trees and vegetation on the property.
Adams said there were 100-year-old trees on that property. She's still devastated and heartbroken.
"The damage is irreparable, no matter what kind of restoration plan we might achieve here. … This owner has demonstrated blatant disrespect for our lake, natural resources, neighbors, community, village and DNR."