Saturday, April 29, 2017

Despite Kohler's golf course annexation ploy, hurdles remain

[Updated] I posted information earlier today about the move by Kohler interests to get their proposed golf course property along the Lake Michigan shoreline annexed by the City of Sheboygan so perhaps the level of local opposition in the Town of Wilson would go away.

While that possible annexation may or may not happen, and may or may not have consequences both expected and unexpected, it's important to remember that the plan to convert a 247-acre wooded-and-wetland-and rare dune-rich nature preserve

into a high-end, groundwater-sucking and traffic spawning private facility at the edge of the lake still faces many hurdles regardless of which local jurisdiction the golf course is allowed to put on its return address, including:

*  Tribal approvals. Remember that the Bad River band's treaty rights and legal prerogatives were among the key reasons the proposed Gtac open-pit iron mine plan for the Bad River watershed collapsed.  A new national report about that is here.

This is relevant because the proposed golf course site was occupied long ago by native people, is filled with thousands of artifacts that includes at least one ceremonial mound which must be protected despite all the destruction, construction and presence of thousands of golfers.

The permitting process requires that the Federal government contact more than two dozen native groups and inform them of the plan, opening numerous routes to various delays.

*  Required permits. The wetland permit application which was recently been filed, and about which many complex questions were raised by DNR experts, is not the only permit needed. Each permit requires a separate application, review, and so on.

*  Because the golf course property is also to absorb several acres of adjoining land in Kohler Andrae State Park, the park's operating Master Plan will have to be amended by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board which oversees the Department of Natural Resources.

The Board is heavy with Walker appointees - - and it's been known for sometime that Walker's campaign committee has benefited from big developer donations - -  but amending a state park Master Plan, especially for a park as popular as is Kohler Andrae which has long-standing strong advocacy, is not a slam dunk. 

The Board decision will require a public vote; public testimony is not required but could be allowed by the Board. 

* Finally, the DNR's draft Environmental Impact Statement assessing all the environmental impacts posed by the golf course plan has not yet been deemed complete by the DNR.

All of these issues have to be addressed, reviewed, and as with all such matters - - possibly litigated - - regardless of whether the golf course property remains in the Town of Wilson or is annexed by the City of Sheboygan.

*  Federal approvals. I'm well aware that Trump's election has profoundly changed and deteriorated the mission of the US EPA and made a bad situation in Wisconsin that much worse, but the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers - - a separate body with its own, engrained culture - - still have obligations with regard to the project's potential impact on Lake Michigan water quality, the integrity of the shoreline dunes, and so forth.

I'm not downplaying the significance of the annexation ploy. I'm just saying that there are multiple timetables in play, regardless.


Anonymous said...

I grew up in Wisconsin in an era when Township government was strong. From the late 50's onward there was a steady attack strategy by developers, banks and politicians to minimize the power and authority at the township level. Townships were convinced to cede things first to the counties and then of course regional planning schemes like SEWRPC became codified in law at the state level. It is folly to see what happens at a hearing or meeting with SEWRPC etc. It's clear to see that they are condescending to the citizens and have their own agenda that they are pushing. They supposedly take comments into account but are never required to demonstrate where they have in fact addressed those comments and concerns.

Anonymous said...

Please inform us when the public may speak, because I have an interest in the property that was once owned by my grandparent and aunt and uncle.I believe that this land that was confiscated by the government ( what was offered to them,( my grandparents and aunt and uncle and family)was take the money or get nothing)of those who where not given a say in the matter, should also be considered when giving this land to a private sector, with only the few and not the majority's interest considered here. As it was stated to them, in laymen terms, that the land was confiscated in regards/ of or for the interest of the many and not the few. I believe that if this property is going to be offered up. Than the people/ families who previously owned that property (prior to the governmental confiscation) should have a chance to buy it back at the price it was taken. I believe these families should also have some type of right to a denouement for the wrong doing of the confiscation of their most beloved possession their land. In my family's case, a life-long way they made their living, and worked so hard to build and keep! This was their little bit of sanctuary, and their love and respect for the wilderness!! Please Please keep us posted to when we, the public, may have our chance to voice our opinions; in regards to fight for our ancestor's land, to not be taken again. This would be an even worse travesty than the first time it was taken!!!