Lake Geneva sex offender registry map

A map from the Wisconsin Department of Correction’s sex offender registry indicates that 23 convicted sex offenders live within a three-mile radius of downtown Lake Geneva. (Contributed photo/Regional News)

Despite advice from the city attorney, Lake Geneva aldermen voted tonight not to relax an ordinance that virtually bans sex offender from living in the city.

In another controversial matter, aldermen also voted against commissioning a new consultant study on future development possibilities for the former Hillmoor Golf Course property.

Both measures failed separately by the narrow margin of 5-3.

City Attorney Dan Draper had urged aldermen to ease a current 2,000-foot buffer for sex offenders living near schools, parks and playgrounds. Draper warned that the ordinance was illegal, overly restrictive, and likely to lose any court challenge.

A federal judge in Wisconsin recently ruled that a similar measure in another Wisconsin city was unconstitutional.

But with strong public sentiment against a relaxed rule — at least on social media — a majority of Lake Geneva aldermen voted to leave the virtual ban on sex offenders on the books.

On the golf course study, city plan commissioners had recommended hiring consultants to draft new possible development guidelines for the long-vacant Hillmoor Golf Course property. The golf course closed years ago, and the 200-acre property stands dormant.

Landowner White River Holdings LLC recently dropped a lawsuit against the city and signaled an interest in renewing talks about redevelopment possibilities. City staff had recommended a study to set the table for new talks rather than merely waiting for White River to submit a new proposal.

Aldermen voted down the study idea after hearing from community residents who oppose any move toward major new development on the old golf course.