Lake Geneva group wins fight to open memo between city and developer
LAKE GENEVA A group of residents formed as a watchdog of Lake Geneva city government says it has won a major victory to open city files.
Dick Malmin, a Care for Lake Geneva board member, announced Sunday the group won access to a September 2011 memorandum of understanding between the city and developer Robert Hummel.
Care for Lake Geneva sued the city in November seeking access to the memo. An attorney for legal powerhouse Foley & Lardner filed a writ of mandamus to require the city to release all records regarding the memorandum of understanding between the city and Hummel's firm, Geneva Ridge Joint Venture. The memo was mentioned in a Sept. 15, 2011, city press release.
"We are encouraged that the city has finally complied with our legal and rightful request for these records," said Care for Lake Geneva President Casey Schiche. "While we are displeased that we had to use the courts to press our rights, the law is clearly on our side on this matter.
"We have every right to know since the details are likely to affect the city and the lake," Schiche said in a news release.
Hummel owns 718 acres near Big Foot Beach State Park, and the land was the center of a zoning dispute with the city.
Hummel filed a federal suit in 2009 claiming the city illegally hindered his plans for development. Following the memo of understanding, the city reclassified Hummel's property with an amendment to the city master plan.
Malmin said Care for Lake Geneva wants to examine the memo of understanding to see if the reclassification of Hummel's property from agriculture to residential and commercial was in exchange for Hummel dropping his federal suit.
Malmin said as soon as Care for Lake Geneva receives a copy of the memorandum of understanding, it will release the document's contents to the public.
"We are not suing for monetary damages," Schiche said. "We expect our legal expenses to be reimbursed, and we will not seek any damages from the city of Lake Geneva.
"We simply want the city to know we are watching and will remain a watchdog for our community," he said.