Golf lodge proposal ruled out of bounds

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – In the end, zoning trumped golf.

Developer Chris Wold’s proposal for a tournament golf lodge didn’t make the cut Tuesday as the Plymouth Town Board voted to deny the necessary rezoning for the parcel on County S.

“I just do not think this area is right for business (zoning),” said Rick Nick, chairman of the Zoning Commission, which recommended against the rezoning after a public hearing. “This is spot zoning and I think it’s going to open up a can of worms.”

Wold was seeking to rezone a portion of a 14.7-acre parcel on County S south of County Z to B-1 business in order to build a Tournament Club golf lodge.

The intention was to host groups of up to 16 golfers for three- or four-day ‘golf tournaments’ on area championship-caliber courses.

More than half a dozen people spoke during the Zoning Commission public hearing, some in favor but more opposed or with reservations.

“I think he has a great idea but it’s the wrong place for it. I think there would be a lot of conflict,” Mark Levsen, who farms across the road from the proposed site, told the commissioners.

His brother, Bill, who also farms property adjacent to the proposed lodge, added, “The noises and smells from farming are not going to fit with the atmosphere golfers want.”

Don Hill pointed to an earlier rezoning along County S, for Wilderness Log Homes north of County Z.

“Our neighborhood fought vigorously to keep that out,” he commented. “After a very short time we learned to live with that noise and get used to it. This to me seems like a positive thing compared to Wilderness Log Homes.”

“Twenty-three years ago I bought land next door to this property, specifically with the idea that I moved there to be away from the city,” Dennis Hill stated. “Now it seems like the city is moving in next to me.”

Mike Sokol, who said he had recently purchased land near where Wold wanted to build, questioned what would happened if the rezoning were approved and Wold’s business failed.

“If the business does not survive what do you do with the building there,” Sokol asked. “Who can stop somebody else from moving in and starting a business that’s not as concerned,” about preserving the natural setting.

“It’s more about the precedent for me,” Sokol continued. “If you allow one, where is the next guy going to want to start a business? Who’s next? Where’s the next business coming out into the country?”

Adam Payne, a County S resident, said he felt the golf lodge concept was a good one and would fit in with economic development, but feared that spot zoning would set a bad precedent.

“I think that’s a slippery slope and a dangerous one at that,” Payne said of spot zoning. “I want to support the existing land use plan and zoning that’s already in place.”

County S resident Ethan Feldner noted that he and his wife have two young sons who play in their yard and said he was concerned about the additional traffic.

“I don’t think it’s a very good idea to have more traffic going down the road than there already is,” Feldner told the commissioners. “Even if it is only four cars, one time my children’s ball goes out into the road might be the one time (an additional) car would go by.”

Payne also questioned the impact the development might have on the Levsens’ farming operations, noting that the family had been farming their land since the 1950s. “This is clearly a conflict,” he stated.

“Personally, I find it hard to believe anything we do will be disruptive to anything anyone else would want to do in the area,” Wold responded.

“Everyone is describing something this is not going to be,” he continued. “I certainly wouldn’t want to do it and be everybody’s enemy. I don’t want to move in and be the Grinch.”

Zoning Commission member John Laack noted that the town had set aside businesszoned land along State 23/County O, State 57 and County PP to keep businesses in a specific corridor.

“I can’t go out and find business land because it doesn’t fit,” Wold responded. “If that was an option for me, I would do that, but this land is unique and golf enhances its beauty.”

“I think it’s a good idea, it’s just the wrong location,” Zoning Commission chairman Rick Nick concluded.

The commission voted 3-0 to recommend against the rezoning and the Town Board voted to follow that recommendation 4-0, with Supervisor Roger Rortvedt absent.

The board did approve a variance to allow Mike Thuene to build a larger-thanallowed storage shed on his Branch Road property and a conditional use permit to Chris Dahlke to operate a Two Men and a Truck business on County O.

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