Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Lodge proposal may return to commission soon

by Steve Targo

May 10, 2012

GENEVA — The wait continues, but hope is alive and well that the parties which could make or break an estimated $20 million “adult living facility“ proposal for the Lodge at Geneva Ridge, W4240 Highway 50, can reach an agreement.

Ongoing issues between the Lodge and the Interlaken Condominium Property Owners Association caused the project to stall out at the Geneva Town Planning Commission level.

In fact, at the April 23 commission meeting, the two conditional use permit requests which would allow the 160-unit facility proposed to be built near a hotel under construction near Red Chimney Road were tabled.

Attorney John Maier, who represents Michael Zuckerman, the developer of the proposed project, gave the commission an update.

“As reported by attorney Maier, the parties have been spending a fair amount of time regarding ownership and maintenance of the Interlaken property infrastructures — roads, water, sewer — which they jointly wish to have a clearly defined, shared responsibility for and control of moving forward,” stated Joe Kopecky, commission and town of Geneva chairman, in a May 2 e-mail.

He provided a letter drafted from Maier sent April 23 to attorney David C. Williams and Scott Lowell, of the association.

Maier stated a concept is being negotiated to have the association, the hotel and the proposed adult living facility “form a new entity that would acquire, own, operate and maintain the system of private roads within the overall resort complex, as well as the utility systems, generally consisting of the water and sewer collection and distribution systems.

“This new entity would operate on a not-for-profit basis and provide these services to all three groups in the future who would share the resort complex,” Maier stated.

But it appears this agreement isn’t official yet.

“I will be asking (the commission) not to take any vote, but to wait until our future joint appearance at which the agreement I hope we will reach can be announced,” Maier stated.

Kopecky stated the town has not been involved in these negotiations and the permit requests were tabled until the May commission meeting. That meeting is tentatively set for Monday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m.

The commission is one of the initial steps in the approval process necessary to follow before the Lodge breaks ground on this project. The commission likely would recommend action to the Geneva Town Board, which then recommends action to Walworth County officials, who have the final say. The Williams Bay Extra-Territorial Zoning Board also is expected to weigh in on the proposal before it reaches the county level.

Slow going

The issues between the Lodge and the association came into play since the Lodge filed two conditional use permits last fall. Kopecky had suggested both parties work out an agreement.

This may address some longstanding issues. “Basically, a lot of it is we’d just like to have control,” Williams said in a March 16 telephone interview. “As it is now, the road, the sewer, the street lights, that’s all a separate corporation owned and controlled by Anvan.”

Williams said there has been litigation between both sides which dates back 15 years ago. He said they have been in a “major dispute” over how much the association owes the Lodge in water and sewer fees, and the condition of Red Chimney Road has been another point of contention.

As for the proposal itself, in a March 14 interview, Hansen said the facility site originally was marked for hotel units back in the heyday of the economy.

“We hit 2006 and 2007, they did the first phase of that, the remodeling of rooms, but when they wanted to go into the second phase, the market wasn’t there,” Hansen said.

That phase now is the site of the proposed three-story adult living facility, a proposal which calls for 160 units — 100 for independent living residents, 60 for assisted living.

The development was touted as offering “luxurious senior living with no large buy-in fees,” according to the conditional use permit request to allow the project. The request also states there will be “resort-style amenities such as indoor and outdoor spas and restaurant dining.” Plans also call for the construction of a water tower to accommodate the projected increased use of the utility system.

If approved, according to the permit request for the facility, the project could create 62 jobs — including 22 in health care. Prospective residents would be ages 55 and older and have an annual income of more than $35,000.

Hansen said the façade would blend in with that of existing structures on the site. He said considering the time it would take to bid out the project, it could be more than one year before completion.

“They did want to start this year,” Hansen said.

On the other hand, although Williams said the association hasn’t taken an official stance on the proposal, he has received “probably 50 to 100 e-mails” from those for or against it.

Kopecky had expressed a willingness to please both sides of this issue.

On March 19, he stated the town is “eager to have the Lodge remain as a viable member of our local business community” and “respects the rights and concerns of the condo property owners.”