Both sides speak out at golf course EIS hearing

by Jacob Immel
Review Correspondent

SHEBOYGAN – A Department of Natural Resources public hearing Thursday at the University of Wisconsin Sheboygan on a proposed lakeshore golf course adjacent to Kohler-Andrae Park boiled down to two main groups: pro-development and pro-environment.

The hearing on the DNR-prepared environmental impact statement was intended to hear from multiple viewpoints regarding the development.

The hearing was held in the UWSheboygan Theatre before a nearlypacked house with a lively yet respectful crowd.

The Kohler Co. has proposed an 18-hole public golf course, clubhouse and other amenities on 247 acres of undeveloped Lake Michigan frontage land owned by Kohler adjacent to the northern boundary of the John Michael Kohler and Terry Andrae state parks. The development would also include changes on the northern edge of the state park property.

Points of controversy include the grading and removal of trees and filling in 3.7 acres of wetlands. The development would also include a new restaurant, clubhouse, parking lot, an irrigation pond, driving range and several cart paths and trails, according to the environmental impact statement.

Another part of the proposal that has caused debate is a roundabout to deal with the traffic flow. A new maintenance building for golf course equipment is also proposed on the Kohler Andrae property near the location of the current park maintenance buildings.

There were a mixture of oral statements coming from neighbors, small business owners, advocates, local legislators and more. Oral comments were limited to five minutes and in lieu of oral statements, written statements can be sent to Jay Schiefelbein of the DNR. There were roughly 100 individuals in attendance and about a dozen people spoke overall.

Environmental groups in the area and the state were present. The Friends of the Black River was represented through oral comment. The group was founded to oppose the development and support conservation of the land. Their mission statement states, “To oppose the construction of a golf course within the Black River Forest and to promote the preservation of the integrity of that river, its wetlands, the forest and the adjoining Lake Michigan Shore as an ecological whole.”

Friends of Wisconsin State Parks also spoke at the hearing. Michael Mc- Fadzen of the group stated that while Kohler Co. has the legal right to do as they wish with their land, he’s worried about the future the development would create.

Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen expressed his support for the project. The mayor cited job creation and economic development for the city and county as reasons to support the project. Estimates project some 250 jobs and upwards of $20 million in economic impact form the course.

Representatives from two golf advocacy groups, Rob Jansen of the Wisconsin State Golf Association and Joe Stadler of the Wisconsin PGA, also spoke. Stadler stated that Kohler’s support for golf advocacy and golf education would only improve with the development of the new course. Also discussed was the overall positive economic growth through tourism that the golf industry brings the state, which could continue to grow through the development of the course.

Written comment regarding the environmental impact statement can be submitted online to DNRKohlerProposal@ wisconsin.gov or by mail to Jay Schiefelbein of the DNR, 2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay 54313-6727 through Dec. 14.


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