County Approves 131-site RV Campground in Jacksonport

After a 4½-hour meeting that was packed mostly with Jacksonport residents in opposition, the Door County Resource Planning Committee (RPC) approved a 131-site campground Jan. 18. The campground will be located on the west side of Highway 57 at Bagnall Road, just south of downtown Jacksonport.

“This has been a long road,” said property owner Cheri Lauritzen after the meeting, “I think they did it very professionally and I think the meeting went well.”

“We did a lot of homework,” her husband, Cary, added.

“It’s not something we take lightly,” Cheri said. “We are dedicated to making this work.” She identified herself as the third-generation owner of the land, with her grandparents being the first owners in her family.

The proposal had the support of both the Jacksonport Plan Commission and town board, both of which gave public airings with public notice, yet many of those in opposition said they only learned about the planned RV park at the 11th hour before it went for county approval at the RPC.

And while none of those against the proposal specifically argued against a new campground in Door County, they were against the location of this campground.

Artist Kari Anderson was one of the dozen people who spoke against the proposal, and one of several who felt the notification process for the development was not adequate.

“I’m sorry that I did not get involved with this sooner,” she said, echoing a general sentiment among those against the proposal.

Anderson praised the town board for the improvements it has spearheaded in recent years, but thought the board was misguided in its support of this project. She suggested the anticipated $21,000 in taxes to be gained from the campground would not compensate for all the problems the development would bring. She joined others in expressing concern about traffic safety, pedestrian safety with people walking on Highway 57 from the campground to downtown, abuse of surrounding private land by campers, noise, campfire smoke, its effect on surrounding property values, competition for the established Bley store with the proposed campground store, and a general disturbance of the “quiet side” nature of Jacksonport.

Jacksonport resident and business owner Kathy Navis reiterated what several others said – nothing against a campground, but said this is not the right location for “a sea of RVs.”

“They should be off in the woods somewhere where nobody else sees or hears them,” she said.

Robert Kufrin, chair of Jacksonport’s Plan Commission, said the town has been looking at ways to increase its tax base, but lots in the downtown area are too small to create viable businesses.

Plan Commission member and former town chair Al Birnschein reiterated Kufrin’s comments, saying this new business is needed in a town that’s “pretty much dead. That’s a known fact.”

“Jacksonport’s known as the quiet side, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing,” said town chair Randy Halstead, who also spoke in favor of the campground and the taxes it would bring to the town.

Those who spoke against the plan included Dan Meunier, who will be the closest neighbor to the campground. Meunier’s home and music studio is an old schoolhouse 310 feet east of the campground lot line. He was worried that noise from the campground would disturb his ability to create music in his home studio, and that campfire smoke would infiltrate his home and damage his four pianos and art collection.

“Who do I call if this happens at my property,” he asked the RPC.

RPC Chair Ken Fisher told him that if the committee did approve the campground, it could apply conditions to take care of many of the concerns that residents highlighted.

Meunier suggested a substantial fund be created by the campground owners to take care of problems as they arise with the new development. He also called for regular well testing to ensure the campground is not polluting the wells of its neighbors, and requested the campground pay for new noise-reducing glass in his cottage. In lieu of that, he asked the committee to vote no.

Committee chair Fisher said he was concerned with possibly inexperienced RV drivers having trouble negotiating the tight turn from Highway 57 onto Bagnall Road for the entrance to the campground. Halstead informed the committee that the town owned a triangular parcel of land next to Bagnall that could be used to make a better turn-in.

The committee approved the campground on a 3-1 vote (member Jon Koch voted against it based on traffic safety issues), but with a number of stipulations, including more fast-growing buffer trees and adding a six-foot fence on the eastern edge that borders private woodland so that campers can’t take a shortcut through private property into town.

The committee also stipulated that an attendant must be on-site 24-7 when the campground is in operation, set a 10 pm noise curfew, a midnight restriction on campfires, and ordered that fireworks cannot be set off within the campground.

Fisher said he believed the owners had agreed to go above and beyond in their efforts to satisfy concerns, but he added that the Lauritzens would have to continue listening to their neighbors should issues arise.

In addition to the 97 RV campsites, 12 rustic sites and 21 shelter unit sites, there will be a check-in facility that includes a camp store and laundry facility (a two-bedroom dwelling on the second story was removed from the proposal), a 30’x40’ bathroom and shower facility. The store and laundry will be open to the public.

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