Northern Sky Theater A Step Closer to New Home

If the Door County Board of Supervisors follows the recommendations of the Resource Planning Committee (RPC), Island Orchard Cider will have outdoor seating at its tasting room in Ellison Bay, Robert Geitner will be running a kayak tour company from Mr. G’s, his parent’s supper club in Jacksonport, and Northern Sky Theater will be able to purchase a 17-acre piece of property from Stella Maris Parish on County A & F in the Town of Gibraltar for a rehearsal and fall performance space.

The committee passed each of the above unanimously after public hearings on each issue, but it also voted unanimously to deny a request for a proposed gravel mining operation in the Town of Sevastopol.

The almost full-house audience was there mostly to support Northern Sky Theater’s request to amend the zoning district classification for the 17-acre parcel of land the organization wants to buy from the Stella Maris Parish.

Richard Dannhausen, a trustee and treasurer for the parish, explained that the parish purchased the property at the intersection of County A & F in the Town of Gibraltar 10 years ago with the idea of closing the five community churches in Northern Door and consolidating into one large church, but a parishioner vote determined that everyone was happy with the five quaint community churches. The parish put the property up for sale, “and we really had very little interest,” Dannhausen said.

During a hearing before the Gibraltar Plan Commission, Dannhausen said objections were raised to switching the zoning to general commercial because that would open the door to other uses (someone at the meeting suggested a gas station might be one of those uses).

“It’s not our intent to do that,” Dannhausen said. “We really want this fine arts venue on the property. We feel that’s the best use of the property.”

Dave Maier, managing director of Northern Sky Theater, told the committee the group has “a good vision for the property.”

“We never thought our veracity would be up for question with people wondering about our intent for the property. I’m sure the parish didn’t either,” Maier said. “That’s been a learning experience.”

He added that a board member is willing to write a check for the property as soon as the zoning issue is resolved.

Only one person spoke against the rezoning. Mike Mittermann and his wife live on a 1½-acre parcel next to the church-owned property. Mittermann said he was not against the proposed use – and even spoke in support of the work of Northern Sky – but was against the zoning change.

“If the current zoning could stay and support the arts venue, that would probably be acceptable to us,” he said.

The committee unanimously approved the zoning change.

Another group of residents of Sevastopol were in attendance to voice their opposition to a planned gravel mining operation. Jason Brauer, who wanted a conditional use permit to crush rock into gravel for his construction business, owns the five-acre parcel. He said the mine would be in operation for 10 years, at which time he would develop the land for residential, with a pond where the rock mining took place.

The Town of Sevastopol had already voiced its opposition to the plan. Sevastopol residents who spoke against the mining operation at the RPC meeting expressed concerns about noise, dust and the closeness of the planned operation to homes.

“I have a problem with this. It’s just too close to all those homes,” said RPC member Susan Kohout.

“I would not want to vote against the town,” said RPC Chair Ken Fisher, who disclosed that he runs his own rock mining operation. “Everybody’s concerned about it disrupting the area. It will for a few years. But I see the inconvenience as short term.”

Ultimately, he voted with the rest of the committee in denying Brauer’s application. RPC member David Lienau excused himself from the vote because he also serves as president of the Sister Bay Village Board, which is in litigation with a mining operator.

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