Town weighs split zoning for golf lodge

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The answer to the zoning puzzle for a proposed golf lodge in the town of Plymouth may prove to be more than one answer – multiple zoning.

Developer Chris Wold was back before the Plymouth Town Board Wednesday, seeking approval to rezone a 14.7-acre parcel on County S for his proposed Tournament Club project.

Wold was seeking rezoning for the parcel from conservancy (C-2) to institutional park (P-2), but the Zoning Commission recommended against the rezoning after a public hearing.

“If you look at P-2, it seems to be more for institutional or fraternal organizations, not private business,” commission member Janice Abraham commented.

Colleague John Laack agreed, asking, “Do we want to put a business out there?”

“That’s kind of like spot zoning,” commission chair Rick Nick agreed.

“I think business should be encouraged, but I know some of the neighbors have concerns,” Mike Schuler, one of the possible neighbors, told the commission.

“When someday this doesn’t work out, what can of worms does this open up,” asked potential neighbor Kathy Levsen at the public hearing on the rezoning request.

“Perhaps the problem is the ordinance isn’t very clear on what the zoning should be,” Town Attorney Jim Hughes commented.

Wold suggested that the lodge, which would host parties of 12-16 people who would spend several days playing local golf courses, could enhance neighboring property values.

“From where you’re at you probably won’t be able to see it, even in winter time when you can see through the trees,” Wold told neighbors, citing the wooded nature of the parcel as well as a large berm between County S and the projected site for the lodge on the property.

When the Town Board took up the issue following the commission meeting, Supervisor Roger Rortvedt clarified that the commission’s objection wasn’t to the proposed golf lodge but to the zoning requested for the parcel.

Town Chairman James Lubach asked Hughes if there could be dual zoning on the property, with a business zoning for the western portion where the lodge will be located and park or conservancy for the remainder, including where Wold would install a synthetic turf green and practice golf hole.

“It can have more than one classification,” Hughes advised.

Wold’s attorney, Crystal Fieber, explained that her client had not sought business zoning for the entire parcel because he didn’t feel that would fit in with his goal of preserving the natural character of the land.

“This isn’t going to be available to someone driving down (County) S who says, ‘Boy, this looks like a nice place, I wonder if they have a room available’,” she told the board.

Wold said he only envisioned the lodge being in operation for six months or so out of the year, from perhaps May through October during golf season.

He also assured neighbors that he would not interfere with or prohibit hunting in the area.

“I really don’t think about us crossing paths,” Wold said, adding that any golfers at the property would not be in the wooded area to the east, which would be preserved.

Lubach suggested that Wold resubmit his rezoning request for business zoning for the west portion of the property and park or conservancy for the rest, which Wold agreed to do.

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