Friday, January 19, 2018

Controversial paved trail/bridge up north on 1/24 env. agenda

You may remember that Elizabeth Uihlein, a major Walker/Trump/GOP mover-shaker-and-donor who lives in Illinois, closed a controversial deal with the DNR for some Manitowish Waters 
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shoreline land up north.
In 2015, her plan to buy frontage from the DNR on Rest Lake that would give her residential complex direct access to the lake came under fire. The Natural Resources Board tabled the sale in September 2015 after critics raised questions about why the DNR would sell lake frontage. 
Others questioned whether Uihlein was getting special treatment. Uihlein ultimately got the land. In July, the DNR announced a land swap that gave the agency nearly 43 acres and 2,100 feet of frontage on Mann Lake, also in Vilas County, that Uihlein and her husband purchased to facilitate the deal.
And she favored the construction of a paved bike path and bridge over sturgeon breeding waters in the area - - a plan that also raised a controversy, so the DNR side-tracked it. 
A key supporter of the project is Elizabeth Uihlein...through a spokesman, she said she did not have any direct involvement in the project. Still, Uihlein has said she will help to pay for the trail and she has made it clear to local officials that she expects the trail to be built.
Now the bridge and biking path is on an already crowded and consequential January 24th meeting agenda - - which the DNR helped put together with and for its oversight arm, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board - - as item 5.B.3.

The item, which includes a sign-off approval recommendation from DNR Secretary Dan Meyer, calls for the acceptance of donations to pay for the $1.15 million bike path and bridge.

Note also that there is a hearing scheduled, and a comment period established for the project five days after the 1/24 Natural Resources Board meeting on 1/29 in Manitowish Waters at 10:00 a.m., at the Manitowish Waters Town Hall, 5733 Airport Rd., Manitowish Waters, WI 54545:

Notice of Pending Application/Public Hearing for Proposed Bridge
Jeff Pennucci, 107 Sutliff Ave., Rhinelander, WI 54501 has applied to the Department of Natural Resources for a permit to construct a bridge over the Manitowish River.

The project is located in the SE1/4 of the NE1/4 of Section 7, Township 42 North, Range 5 East, Town of Manitowish Waters, Vilas County.

The project consists of constructing a 182’ long, 10’ wide clear span pedestrian bridge across the Manitowish river. The bridge is proposed to be supported by concrete abutments set atop helical pilings, and will span from upland to upland on each side of the river. The bridge clearance over the river is proposed to be approximately 8’ during normal water levels.

The Department will review the proposal provided by the applicant and any information from public comments and the public informational hearing. 

The Department will determine whether the proposal complies with ss. 1.11 and 30.123(8), Stats., and ch. NR 150, Wis. Adm. Code, and ensure that the required mitigation meets the standards in s. 281.36(3r), Stats. if the project impacts wetlands.

The Department has made a tentative determination that it will issue the permit or contract for the proposed activity.

If you would like to know more about this project or would like to see the application and plans, please visit the Department’s permit tracking website at and search for WP-IP-NO-2017-64- X12-19T15-01-02.

Reasonable accommodation, including the provision of informational material in an alternative format, will be provided for qualified individuals with disabilities upon request.

The public hearing is scheduled for Monday January 29th at 10:00 a.m. at the Manitowish Waters Town Hall located at 5733 Airport Rd., Manitowish Waters, WI 54545.

The Department scheduled a public hearing on this activity or project because the Department received a request for a public hearing. 

The hearing will be a public informational hearing where members of the public can learn more about the proposed activity and submit written or oral comments about the waterway and project in light of the legal standards above.

Any member of the public may submit written comments by emailing or writing to Kyle McLaughlin, 107 Sutliff Avenue, , Rhinelander, WI 54501 by U.S. mail. 

Comments should include the docket number or applicant name, and should relate to whether the project meets the legal standards listed above. Comments must be postmarked no later than 10 days after the date that the public informational hearing is completed in order for them to be considered.

The final decision may be appealed as indicated in the decision document.
Docket Number IP-NO-2017-64-04529
For the Secretary
____________________________________________ Kyle McLaughlin
Water Management Specialist
January 10, 2018 Date

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