Town of Wilson, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin

The Town of Wilson adopted a 20 Year Comprehensive Plan on which decisions made by the Town Board, generally based on recommendations from the Town Wilson Plan Commission, are reached. The cornerstone of this plan is the future land use map, 2.1. The plan vows to Protect landscape features such as wetlands, floodplains, streams, lakes and woodlands. It is aligned with the values of the Black River Advancement Association. Since its organization in 1934, the BRAA has actively supported the preservation of our natural beauties and historical past.

 

Why this golf course doesn't fit with the
Town of Wilson 20 Year Comprehensive Plan

 

Here is a shorter version of our notes from the TOW 20 Year Comprehensive Plan:

 

Recommendations:

1. Environmental corridors within the town should remain in their natural state or be minimally modified for possible recreational uses. The environmental corridors are represented by four elements including:

     (1) 100-year floodplains as defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

     (2) DNR wetlands

     (3) Steep slopes of 12 percent or greater

     (4) A water setback for buildings from all navigable waterways

 

These elements provide limitations to development and are generally regulated by either the federal, state, or county government. Together, these elements represent the Portions of the town most sensitive to development. The corridors are an overlay to the recommended General Plan Design and should be utilized as a reference.

 

2. Direct development should be kept away from environmental corridors as much as possible – or design development which will help minimize the negative effects on water resources, wildlife habitats and the overall character of the area.

 

3. Future development should maintain the woodlands and green space areas. Lands adjacent to woodlands may be developed at the same or at higher densities by utilizing unique development options such as conservation designs or clustering.

 

4. Encourage the replacement of woodlands (reforestation) to replenish these woodlands as a beneficial component to the natural makeup of the area. Benefits include maintaining/improving wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities, restoration of clean water resources, erosion prevention, noise suppression, etc.

 

5. Develop and maintain a storm

water management plan through an effort to protect the town’s water supply. The town should promote best management practices such as promoting detention/retention ponds, establishing erosion controls, preserving vegetative cover, etc.

 

6. Assist in efforts to improve the quality of beaches by cooperating with government agencies, surrounding communities, etc. to promote efforts to remedy beach closings.

 

7. Allow for informal passive recreational activities such as biking, walking, jogging, swimming, and canoeing (where access to Lake Michigan is available).

 

 

3-1

(3). Also, the Comprehensive Plan provides much of the rationale elected officials need in making a land use decision. When reviewing any petition or when amending any town land use controls, the comprehensive plan shall be reviewed and a recommendation will be derived from its identified strategies, vision statement, and General Plan Design. If a decision needs to be made that is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan, the comprehensive plan must be amended to reflect this change in policy before the change can take effect.

 

Community Visioning Survey Results

The plan shows “Community Visioning Survey Results.”  As you read these survey results you see that Town Residents are very much interested in preserving the natural resources of the Town of Wilson.

• Preserve state park areas and area around it not state –owned

• Preserve nature

• Keep Black River culture

• Monitor aquifer water level and CONSERVE

• Trees

• Woods

• Maintain what we have and preserve more

• Pro-active protection of natural water courses, integrated with town basin-wide storm water management

• Pro-active protection of forests and incentives to replace and restore

• Clean rivers

• Green space reserved.

 

When asked about Land Planning and Development residents want to:

 

• Keep Black River unique

• Please slow down development,

• Once the land is lost to development, it is lost forever

• Expand Kohler-Andrae Park.

 

It is further stated there is a misconception that growth and progress are always good things, but this isn’t necessarily the case 100% of the time.  In a small, remote rural area, growth can be beneficial to the safety and convenience of the residents, but Town of Wilson is not remote.  We have the City of Sheboygan right next door.  That means that shopping, emergency services, cultural benefits and entertainment offerings of a much larger city are right there at our fingertips.  Duplication of any of these offerings within our town is not necessary and in many cases could not compete.. Instead, we would like to see the Town of Wilson as a kind of get-away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger city, with a concentration instead on natural beauty and open farmlands.

 

The top responses include preserving Black River’s integrity, preserving the coastline in natural state, and storm water management.

 

There was not a single resident whom expressed a desire for an additional golf course to be built in the Town of Wilson.

 

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Here is the longer version of our notes from the TOW 20 Year Comprehensive Plan:

 

 

Chapter 1-Issues and Opportunities

PURPOSE OF THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

Page 1-1:

The plan states, “Public input received during the 18-month planning was instrumental in the development of the plan. The intent of this Comprehensive Plan is to be used as a guide by town officials when making land use decisions over the next 20 years.” The public input (documented in appendix B clearly conveys the importance of protecting and preserving the town’s natural features – its shore lands, wetlands, waterways, forests and parks, including Kohler-Andrae State Park.

The plan also states, “This means any of the town’s ordinances or regulations relating to land use may need updating to ensure the consistency with the adopted comprehensive plan.”

The town residents would like to know that the town officials are using the 20-year comprehensive plan as their guide to making land use decisions and understand how they are doing so.

 

Public Participation

Page 1-4 and 1-5:

The plan states, “In November 2005, the Town of Wilson Plan Commission and ad hoc members participated in a nominal group exercise. The purpose of this brainstorming session was to produce a list of issues and concerns regarding future development.”  The top issue cited was to “preserve the coastline in its natural (rural) state…”

The Town of Wilson 20 year vision statement reads, “Wilson’s visionary government and community leaders have planned ahead to ensure the town is well-prepared to meet the growing needs of its residents and businesses while preserving and enhancing the natural qualities of the land through implementation of this comprehensive plan.”

We believe proposed golf course goes against the priorities of our residents and the vision of our government and community leaders.

 

Natural Resources

Page 1-8 and 1-9:

The following is stated verbatim from the plan.

Goal:  To preserve and further enhance the function and attractiveness of the town’s natural landscape.

Objective 1:  Identify and maintain the features of the town that help to sustain an orderly natural environment.

Policy A – Protect landscape features such as wetlands, floodplains, streams, lakes, woodlands, etc.

• Restrict development in all classified wetlands, flood hazard and high groundwater areas through the use of appropriate zoning designations.

• Support projects to protect the unique natural features of the town and the Lake Michigan shoreline.

• Encourage sound management practices of the town’s woodlands and wetlands.

Policy B – Use management techniques when developing areas adjacent to rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.

• Encourage the inclusion of environmental corridors, buffer zones, grasslands and other natural areas in new and existing developments.

• Preserve the integrity of the Black River area.

Policy D – Support the preservation and reconnection of natural corridors for species movement between significant natural areas.

Objective 2:  Encourage protection of water resources (surface and ground).

Policy A – Restore and preserve surface water quality (inland and coastal wetlands, lakes, rivers, and streams).

Policy B – Participate in efforts to maintain the natural beauty and integrity of the Lake Michigan shoreline, while providing for public use and access.

Policy D – Identify and preserve groundwater resources and recharge sites (wetlands, lakes and ponds) and areas of shallow soils.

The proposed golf course will clear cut a significant amount of trees,  require the use of enormous amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, and consume an estimated 16.5 million gallons of groundwater a year, the equivalent of 226 homes.  This is not the way to preserve the town’s natural landscape, protect its water resources or maintain the natural corridors for species movement between significant natural areas.

 

Economic Development

Page 1-13 and 1-14

The plan states that the primary objective of the economic development plan is to “locate businesses in areas that will not compromise the town’s overall rural atmosphere.”  It further states that the town will “invest in the expansion and enhancement of the natural areas and parks that will be attractive to visitors and provide recreational opportunities for residents.”

Although the proposed golf course is technically considered a recreation use, make no mistake that in reality it is a business operation for Mr. Kohler that will provide little recreation use for the town residents due to its incredibly high price point.  In fact, the golf course will take away recreational lands from local residents and visitor by incorporating 32 acres of state park lands for 4 of its holes.

 

Parks and Recreation

Page 1-17

The plan states that it will “work with the state of Wisconsin on the maintenance and enhancements to the park facilities and access roads to public parks such as Kohler-Andrae state Park.” It further states that it will “explore available resources and contact appropriate agencies (e.g. WDNR, BLRPC, etc.) to further enhance the quality of the town’s recreational systems.

The town residents would like to know how the town board and other officials are working pro-actively with state agencies to protect our park facilities.  Converting 32 acres of state park land to private use goes directly opposite the 20-year comprehensive plan’s state goal to protect Kohler-Andrae State Park.  Where is the board’s voice on this issue?  This plan objective states that you have one.

 

Chapter 2-Future Land Use Plan

State Planning Goals

Page 2-1:

The plan outlines the 14 planning criteria contained in the state’s comprehensive planning legislation (s.66.100 (2)), which “were developed to ensure local officials are developing a plan that accounts for each individual component of the community.”  Included are these three criteria:

• Protection of natural areas, including wetlands, wildlife habitats, lakes, woodlands, open spaces and groundwater resources.

• Preservation of cultural, historic and archaeological sites.

• Balancing individual property rights with community interests and goals.

State legislation specifically requires that local officials develop plans to balance community interests and goals with individual property rights.  We believe strongly that approval of the proposed golf course project by the town board would result in serving the business interests of one billionaire non-resident over the interests of town’s residents and the wellbeing of the town’s natural areas, with minimal if any economic benefit to our community.  This is not balance.  Furthermore, the town is not bound by the DNR’s approval of this project.  Town officials must obviously take that into consideration, but the interests of the town residents take precedence, contrary to what board officials have stated publicly.

 

Land Use Issues and Conflicts

Page 2-2:

The plan states, “The primary goal of the comprehensive planning process is to identify land use issues and conflicts and opportunities for resolutions as stated during the Intergovernmental Cooperation Workshop.” Included are these two criteria:

• Expansion of parks and recreation areas to better serve the needs of town residents.

• Preservation and enhancement of the Lake Michigan shoreline, parks, conservancies, open spaces, creeks and rivers.

Again, the comprehensive plan states clearly that land use issues and conflicts are to be resolved in the interests of town residents and preservation of the town’s natural areas.  Approval of the proposed golf course would fly in the face of that goal.

 

Anticipated Land Use Trends

Page 2-2:

The plan states, “The town’s many natural features will continue to be preserved.”

Approval of the proposed golf course would not do that.

 

Development Considerations

Page 2-3:

The plan states the following.

• Business and residential developers should be made aware of the long range development plans of the town.

• Being located on the shores of Lake Michigan and divided by the Black River and Weedens Creek, it is essential that the environment is protected from any negative impacts that may be associated with increased development.

• In an effort to make the Lake Michigan shoreline more attractive for residents and visitors, the town should support studies and efforts to determine origins of contaminants and economical ways of clean-up of these pollutants.

Has Mr. Kohler been made aware of the town’s comprehensive plan? Is he aware that the Black River and the beach at Kohler-Andrae are both listed by the State of Wisconsin as impaired? The waterways that surround this proposed golf course are already fragile.  The inevitable introduction of pesticides and fertilizers with this project WILL have some added negative impact on these already strained waterways.  It is only a matter of the DNR determining if that level is acceptable or not. In either case, the town board has the legal ability to reject those findings in favor of their own more stringent standards.

 

Parks and Open Space

Page 2-10 and 2-11:

The plan recommends the following.

• Continue to utilize natural areas and environmental corridors as recreational sites.  This will help preserve the many natural features located within the town, maintain wildlife habitat, and provide for possible linkages to trails.

• Continue to maintain public access to Lake Michigan.

The Black River Forest is an important corridor for wildlife habitat between Kohler-Andrae State Park and the Timberlake residential area.  This project will severely impede that corridor and drive wildlife habitat out to its peripheries.

Secondly, Mr. Kohler maintains he will maintain shoreline access to Lake Michigan up to the waterline in accordance with state waterway access laws.  However he made that same commitment to the Town of Mosel residents and then later constructed natural barriers that prevented that access.  What will the Town of Wilson officials do to make sure that commitment is kept?

 

Conservancy

Page 2-11:

The plan states:

This district includes the natural features of environmental corridors and conservancy areas.  Preservation and protection of natural areas will become increasingly important as population and development pressures increase.  Many natural features enhance the appearance of the town; are unsuitable for development; and have characteristics critical to the environmental enhancement, ecological stability and water quality of the area.

The plan further recommends the following.

• Environmental corridors within the town should remain in their natural state or be minimally modified for possible recreational uses.

• Direct development away from environmental corridors as much as possible or design development which will help minimize the negative effects on water resources, wildlife habitats and the overall character of the area

• Future development should maintain the woodlands and green space areas.

Again, the proposed project will impede the wildlife corridor, put additional stress on an already impaired waterway, and clear cut several acres of forest.

 

Chapter 3-Implementation

 

Responsibilities of Public Officials

Page 3-1:

The plan states that “The Town Board has the primary responsibility to implement the comprehensive plan…” and that the “comprehensive plan provides much of the rationale elected officials need in making land use decisions.”  It further states, “Town Board, members of the Plan Commission and Town Clerk need to be familiar with the maps and text, in addition to the vision statement and future development strategies (i.e. goals, objectives, policies, and programs) found within the plan.

The town residents want to be assured that town officials are familiar with the comprehensive plan and that it is being used as the primary means to make land use decisions, and that they are aware that their actions are not necessarily restricted to actions of the DNR.

 

Town of Wilson Plan Implementation Schedule

Page 3-6 to 3.17:

Table 3.1 of the plan lays out an implementation schedule for each goal, objective and policy of the 20-Year Comprehensive Plan.  Specific items in table 3.1 that we would like to reiterate are listed below.

• Protect landscape features such as wetlands, floodplains, streams, lakes, woodlands, etc.

• Use management techniques when developing areas adjacent to rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.

• Support preservation and reconnection of natural corridors for species movement between significant natural areas.

• Encourage protection of water resources (surface and ground).

• Restore and preserve surface water quality (inland and coastal wetlands, lakes, rivers, and streams).

• Participate in efforts to maintain the natural beauty and integrity of the Lake Michigan shoreline, while providing for public use and access.

• Identify and preserve groundwater resources and recharge sites (wetlands, lakes and ponds) and areas of shallow soils.

• Consider environmental and resource sustainability opportunities when making land use decisions.

• Evaluate possible adverse impacts to the groundwater sources when evaluation future developments.

• Work with the state of Wisconsin on the maintenance and enhancements to the park facilities and access roads to public parks such as Kohler-Andrae State Park.

 

 

Chapter 5-Natural, Agricultural and Cultural Resources

 

Water Resources

Page 5-4 and 5-5:

Town of Wilson lies within the Black River, Onion River, and Sheboygan River watersheds.

The plan states it “is important to evaluate any new developments and land activities to determine their potential impact on the watersheds.”

Golf courses typically use pesticides and fertilizers for maintenance. EPA regulates pesticide use. Pesticides can only be used legally if the user complies with the practices specified on the label. If a receiving water body (e.g., lake, river, or stream) is listed by the state as impaired, runoff of fertilizers and pesticides into that surface water may be governed by a state-adopted pollutant budget known as a total maximum daily load.

The Black River and the beach at Kohler-Andrae are both listed by the State of Wisconsin as impaired.

 

Groundwater

Page 5-5 and 5-6

The plan states “with aquifer levels declining, increasing demands for water, ongoing implementation of water quality standards, and the continued high costs of treating drinking water; efforts to protect the town’s long-term drinking water supply and quality need to be considered when planning for future growth. “

The proposed golf course will threaten groundwater with a private sewage system, pesticides, and fertilizers.

 

Coastal Resources

Page 5-7

The plan states “coastal development can affect the shape and use of the shoreline.  Several issues to consider when planning for this area included shoreline erosion, impacts on coastal wetlands, fluctuating lake levels, increase in non-point pollution, adverse affects to recreation, disruption to wildlife habitats, and the alteration to unique historic and archaeological resources of the area.”

The proposed golf course will impact all of these issues.

 

Wetlands

Page 5-7 and 5-8

The plan states “wetlands serve a variety of functions and roles:  1. Provide scenic open spaces 2. Act as natural pollution filters for lakes, streams, and drinking water 3. Act as groundwater discharges areas to retain floodwaters and 4. Provide valuable and irreplaceable habitat for many plants and animals.

The proposed golf course will destroy valuable natural wetlands.

 

Threatened and Endangered Species

Page 5-8 and 5-9

The plan states “Many rare, threatened and endangered species are found within Sheboygan County.

The proposed golf course property site is home to the Dune Thistle.  The Dune Thistle is on the Wisconsin Endangered Species list.  The Dune Thistle is also on the Federally Endangered Species list.

 

Environmental Corridors

Page 5-9 and 5-10

The plan states  “When considering future development it is important to understand that environmental corridors serve many purposes.  They increase the natural resource areas-Areas of concentrated natural resource activity (“rooms”), such as wetlands, woodlands, prairies, lakes, and other features, become even more functional when linked by environmental corridors (“hallways”).  Fish and wildlife populations, native plant distribution, and even the retention of clean water all depend on movement through environmental corridors.  Environmental corridors can help define a community’s sense of place, or distinctiveness , and provide “services” such as snow and wind protection, recreational areas, or storm water detention.  They can provide valuable outdoor education settings and potential sites for research. Furthermore, corridors may help maintain a community’s aesthetic or historical grounding.

The proposed golf course will disrupt a very important environmental corridor and an environmentally sensitive area.

 

Chapter 7-Economic Development

 

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

Page 7-1, 7-2 and 7-3

The plan states the purpose of this inventory is to establish strategies for economic growth and vitality that will maintain and enhance the identity and quality of life in the Town of Wilson.  The plan identified as threats to the Town of Wilson:

-Only one access to I-43-the wrong type of business could create traffic problems.

-Pollution

-Depletion of water Supply

 

The proposed golf course will meet all of these threats.

 

With County Hwy V as the access to the site, there will be traffic problems for town residents.  Daily traffic will be increased and special event traffic will create major traffic concerns.

 

Pollution will be created with the use of fertilizers and pesticides.  “Light pollution” will also be created in what is now an unlit, dark area.

 

A typical Midwest golf course uses 30-35 million gallons of water in an average year.  The well analysis report states some impact is expected on neighboring wells.  The threat to the water supply for Town of Wilson residents will be greatly increased with the addition of the proposed golf course.

 

 

Chapter 8-Transportation

 

Streets and Highways

Page 8-2, 8-3 and 8-4

The plan states  “A minor arterial should be within a half mile of the following land uses.”  A golf course is listed as one of these land uses.  The plan further describes minor arterials in the Town of Wilson as  “small portions of County Highways KK and OK north of County Highway EE, which remain in the town, are classified as urban minor arterial.”

The proposed golf course is not within a half mile of a minor arterial.

 

Bicycle Transportation

Page 8-15 and 8-16

The plan states “the town has a limited number of facilities (bicycle paths, paved shoulders or signed shared use roads) to serve bicyclists.  These facilities include

County Highway EE/Weeden Creek Road from County Highway KK/South 12th Street to Evergreen Drive (signed shared use road), as well as shared recreation paths in Kohler Andrae State Parks just east of Highway V and west of the Black River.

 

The proposed golf course will create much higher traffic volumes on roads which are used extensively by bicyclists, which will result in less suitable conditions for bicycle travel.

 

Year 2035 Sheboygan Area Transportation Plan (SATP)

Page 8-20

The plan does not forecast County Hwy V as a road projected for modification based on travel demand.

The proposed golf course will negatively impact traffic and road surface conditions on County Hwy V.

© Copyright 2016 Friends of the Black River Forest

© Copyright 2017 Friends of the Black River Forest