WILLIAMS BAY – The Williams Bay Association for Land Preservation is petitioning for a one-year halt in the process of developing the woodland and lakefront areas surrounding the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay.

The group cites concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited public participation, according to a news release.

WBALP is conducting a direct legislation petition drive to collect signatures from eligible Williams Bay residents who support a proposed ordinance calling for the moratorium, according to a news release.

Volunteers for the community organization will be canvassing Williams Bay neighborhoods on Saturday, Jan. 23 and Sunday, Jan. 24. They will be seeking signatures from Williams Bay residents who are at least 18-years-old.

A proposed amendment to the village of Williams Bay Comprehensive Plan is currently pending before the Village Plan Commission. If approved, previously untouched woodlands would be rezoned from “Public and Institutional” use to “Large Lot Residential” use.

“Residents and elected officials of Williams Bay have the responsibility to protect these areas,” the proposed ordinance reads in part. “The COVID-19 pandemic presents serious barriers for public participation.”

A moratorium is necessary “in order to temporarily protect the public interest and welfare,” according to the proposed ordinance. The woodland and Geneva lakefront areas are designated as primary environmental corridors by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

“The residents of Williams Bay want a seat at the table,” said Sandra Johnson, WBALP founder. “We want to be sure that our elected officials are working on our behalf.”

Those interested in signing the petition can also visit Steamers Coffee Shop at 26 W. Geneva St., in Williams Bay.

For more information contact: Sandra Johnson (262) 325-1065

By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak launched Walworth County Community News in 2021. He is the former editor of The Week and Walworth County Sunday.