To the editor:
It was not a secret. They were the center of attention sitting in the front row directly facing Mayor Hartz and the City Council Monday night, and both of them “stepped up to the mic” and spoke to the aldermen, cautioning them on the consequences of adopting a Trojan Horse in the “Hillmoor Feasibility Study.” Attorneys Robert Kennedy and Bruno Rizzo have their law office on Broad Street and Kennedy spent 24 years as a Circuit Court judge here in Walworth County, perfecting his knowledge of the law and how the law must be applied.
Once the former judge and his partner saw the facts on how Vandewalle’s Mike Slaveny and the city staff concocted the AstroTurf “South Neighborhood Plan” to create the ideal Comprehensive Plan and Map for Hummel to annex his 710 acres into the city and use it to propose the infamous Mirbeau/ Hummel Development, it was apparent that Vandewalle was repeating the strategy of producing a City Comprehensive Plan without the critical foundation of input from a public survey. The public survey is the staple and essence of public participation in local planning, so attorneys Kennedy and Rizzo questioned how such a vital decision to delete the Public Survey from the state mandated 10-year Comprehensive Plan revision was made without a public hearing and public consent.
The attorneys then wanted to know if the city was substituting the “Hillmoor Feasibility Study” so Vandewalle could be compensated $53,000 for lost revenue in not conducting the fundamental public survey. The public survey is the entire citizenry’s vision for the future of the city and the Hillmoor study was a single part to be decided by a select group that didn’t include the citizens.
Former judge Kennedy also questioned the sudden dropping of the $55 Million law suit by the purchaser of Hillmoor in 2016, Larry Freed — later turned over to White River Holdings managed by long time Freed employee Paul Fitzpatrick. Without any fanfare or announcement, the suit was dropped and suddenly Mayor Hartz proposed the Hillmoor Feasibility Study.
Mayor Hartz claimed there was no settlement, no demand, no agreement and no “quid pro quo” for dropping the lawsuit.
The mayor and City Planner Mike Slaveny believed Hillmoor should be and would be commercially developed and now was the right time with him in charge. After all, he was the Alderman and Plan Commission member most responsible for giving Hummel the zoning he demanded to cancel his law suits back in 2011. Then Alderman Hartz settled one law suit claiming there was no settlement agreement and no quid pro quo, only to help lead the city into another law suit for doing what Alderman Hartz said the city wasn’t doing — “Contract Zoning.”
Attorneys Kennedy and Rizzo warned the City Council that they would be putting the city in danger of another law suit if they voted for and allowed the Hillmoor Feasibility Study to go forward. Wisely, the council agreed.
Town of Linn