Town of Jacksonport residents are preparing to fight – all the way to court, if need be – a proposed RV campground that won approval from the county’s Resource Planning Committee (RPC) last month.
After hearing nearly four hours of testimony at the Jan. 18 RPC hearing, the committee voted 3-1 in favor of the RV campground. Committee member Jon Koch, a former law enforcement officer, voted against the proposal due to the potential traffic hazard of RVs maneuvering a tight corner on Highway 57 to enter or exit the campground.
The plan had previously won unanimous approval from both the town’s Planning Commission and town board, and it is easy to see why. The town currently collects less than $50 in annual property taxes from 21.2-acre site in its present form as farmland, whereas the campground would pay at least $21,000 to the town in taxes.
But residents say that is at the expense of the town’s quiet character.
“I think 95 percent of the community is opposing this,” said Jacksonport resident Kathy Navis, who has taken a lead in organizing opposition to the campground. “We’re appealing the decision of the Resource Planning Committee, and it goes to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Now we’re much better prepared.”
Navis and others in the community feel residents did not get to air their feelings before the town entities approved the project. She also questions why the hearing was held in January, when many Jacksonport property owners are not in the county. She said some property owners are still just finding out about the plan.
“Everyone who sees the plan goes ‘What?’ There are a lot of people that are horrified by it,” she said.
Navis said she feels the Lauritzen family, who proposed the 131-site campground on the land that has been in their family for three generations, are good people.
“I feel for them,” she said. “I’m sure they spent a lot of time and energy on this.”
But she and others believe it’s the wrong place for an RV campground.
“The only thing I could think of that would be worse for this piece of property is a slaughterhouse,” she said.
Perhaps worse than destroying the character of the town, Navis fears the traffic hazards the campground will create, not just with RVs trying to make the turn, but also for people walking on the highway from the campground to town.
“The traffic is one thing,” she said. “The pedestrian problems to me are really frightening. You can’t tell me families aren’t going to be coming out with strollers and bikes right onto the highway.”
Navis said she has already been in touch with the Door County Land Use Services Department about bringing the matter before the Zoning Board of Adjustment and believes two days of hearings will be scheduled to accommodate the anticipated number of residents who will want to speak out against the campground plan.
And if that board approves the campground plan?
“I’m sure it will go to court,” Navis said.
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At its Feb. 12 meeting, the Jacksonport Plan Commission approved a zoning change to allow Dave Rack to move his business, Door County Kayak, from Juddville to North Cave Point Drive in Jacksonport. The vote changes the nearly four acres from small estate to light industrial on one parcel and mixed commercial on the other.
The land is the site of a former quarry “and not conducive to someone building a house,” said Plan Commission member Lisa Bieri.
Rack said he plans to work with the Jacksonport Historical Society to come up with a building design that fits the character of the area. He added that he went to school for eco-design and plans “to build something beautiful to add to the character, not to take away.”
“It follows what we’ve wanted to do the last two years,” said commission member Tim Bley. “It’s a good business for that area, and will increase revenue a little bit.”
“It’s all about getting business in Jacksonport. We need it. It’s a start,” said commission member Al Birnschein. “It’s been like this for how many years and nothing has happened. As long as I can remember, it’s been vacant.”
The proposal now goes to the town board.