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Majority backs adult living facility idea



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June 19, 2012 | 04:51 PM
GENEVA — For proponents of the estimated $20 million adult living facility proposal near the recently renamed Geneva Ridge Resort, W4240 Highway 50, two hurdles have been cleared.

Last week, the majority of the Geneva Town Board voted in favor of motions which essentially recommend that Walworth County officials and Williams Bay's Extra-Territorial Zoning Committee approve the project, with several conditions.

Geneva Town Chairman Joe Kopecky and Supervisor Steve Kukla voted against one of the motions pertaining to the project.

There was a motion by Supervisor Merle Loomer, seconded by Supervisor Gene Decker, to approve the conditional use permit request to allow the 160-unit project.

In an e-mail Monday, Kopecky stated he voted against the motion because "my past experience is that the Walworth County Zoning Agency may very well ignore our conditional use recommendations, rather than refer them back to us for reconsideration if they do not support our recommendations."

"If that happens and we are not given the opportunity to iron out our detail differences with the developers, the end result may be a project that we are not in agreement with," Kopecky stated.

The site of the proposed facility came into question.

"The Geneva Town Board does believe that the (facility) can coexist on the Interlaken property with the … facility and existing condos as it is a similar use — housing — to the existing uses, but all town board members are not convinced that the chosen (facility) location is the best location for various reasons," Kopecky stated. "Also, certain site details, such as whether or not the proposed wet unfenced detention basins will be an attractive nuisance/safety/maintenance concern and what the actual design of the fire protection/water tower system, cul-de-sacs, etc., will be, are still unresolved."

Kukla stated in an e-mail Friday he voted against that motion for several reasons.

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"First, I don't feel it will be a good mix for the hotel as well as the condo owners and the seniors," Kukla stated. "How does one run a tourist hotel in combination with a senior facility?"

The proposed project site is next to a hotel under construction at Red Chimney Road and near condos owned by people in the Interlaken Condominium Property Owners Association.

"Many of the hotel guests and the condo owners consist of kids and families running around, making noise, and enjoying a weekend away," Kukla stated. "Owners come up to relax, which might consist of cooking on the grill, playing their music and entertaining their guests. Most seniors go to bed early. How will this affect them? Will people be calling the police for loud noise?"

Kukla stated seniors "deserve a nice place to live," but he doesn't think this was the best location for the project, which was proposed by Michael Zuckerman. Kukla stated they should have looked at a "free standing facility" possibly on the west end of the property.

With the property that has been recently rebranded Geneva Ridge Resort open for business, Kukla stated it will continue to host numerous weddings.

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He questioned if this would also conflict with the senior center ambiance.

Kukla also stated the board had asked project proponents to give an example of a similar type of development as this proposed facility, "but as I recall this information was never provided."

He praised the reopened Geneva Ridge and related it to the town's tax revenue.

"Geneva Ridge has spent a lot of money in the last year improving the hotel and the grounds around it," Kukla stated. "I think it looks great and I'm happy to see the improvements.

"The town receives a lot of money through room tax revenue, so seeing the hotel be a great success is a win-win for everyone involved — not just the hotel, (but for) the guests, the town and the employees who all have jobs (there).

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"I spent a great deal of time in the last few months considering the dynamics of the project. I just don't see how the current proposal benefits all of the different entities involved in the long-term."

Kopecky stated these entities — the facility developers, the hotel, condo owners and the Anvan Corp., created an agreement to secure ownership and control of the property's infrastructure.

This became contingent upon the facility project moving forward.

As for the concerns Kopecky and Kukla listed, it appears they're not off the table.

"I am assured that we will be able to work with the developers on a final configuration and not need the protection of all of the conditions the Town Board has added to (its) recommendation, with the end result being a positive addition to the town of Geneva and Interlaken property," Kopecky stated.

Several motions were made both at the special June 7 planning commission and June 11 town board meetings on the requests from developer Michael Zuckerman and proponents of the adult living facility project.

The proposal calls for a 160-unit facility for assisted and independent living seniors.

Forty of the 160 units would be for "memory care" patients, Geneva Town Chairman Joe Kopecky said in a May 24 interview.

According to the original application documents, the facility would be for people ages 55 and older and those who have an annual income of more than $35,000.

To accommodate the projected increased use of utilities, a water tower would be built.

A draft letter by Clerk-Treasurer Deb Kirch to Matt Weidensee, of the Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management Department states that, on June 7, the commission approved motions to recommend:

n Amending the existing conditional use permit for the former Lodge at Geneva Ridge, now known as Geneva Ridge Resort.

The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Commissioner Andy Schmidt against.

Commission Chairman Joe Kopecky did not vote in these motions because there was no tie.

n The condition on the amended conditional use permit that the adult living facility be approved concurrently.

It was also on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Jim Thometz against.

n Approval of the conditional use permit for the adult living facility on a 3-2 vote.

Thometz and Schmidt voted against it.

n Five conditions on the permit.

1. Water, sewer, storm and utility systems for the grounds, drainage plans including safety and maintenance of the detention basins be reviewed by the commission and the town board.

2. Future permit amendments would need to come before the commission on recommendation from the town board.

3. An agreement signed May 21 by the condo owner association, the developers and the former owner of the property be part of the developer's agreement.

4. Card control access between buildings be in place between the hotel and the adult living facility, limiting access to the first floor only.

5. Developer's agreement be in place prior to issuance of a building permit and construction.

The vote was 3-2, with Thometz and Schmidt against it.

On June 11, the Geneva Town Board approved motions to recommend:

n Walworth County and village of Williams Bay Extra-Territorial Zoning approval for amending the existing conditional use permit on the property providing the conditions in the proponents' application are met and the new conditional use permit request is approved. The motion was approved 5-0.

n To approve the new conditional use request with seven conditions — five of which were placed by the commission.

The board also attached the conditions to this motion that capacity and design of the sanitary force main sewer plans would accommodate and be available for hook-up by units along the south shore of Lake Como and construction will commence within two years of final county approval or the request will return to the commission for a recommendation to the town board.

The vote was 3-2, with Kopecky and Supervisor Steve Kukla voting against it.
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