RPC Rejects Redrawn Baileys Harbor Core Map

The Door County Resource Planning Committee (RPC) voted unanimously not to include the new drawing of the Baileys Harbor core area in the Door County Comprehensive Plan 2030 map at a Sept. 23 meeting.

The Baileys Harbor town board had voted in March to include 80 additional acres owned by Joseph Parent Enterprises and located along the south entrance to downtown in the town’s core area map.

The blue boundary on the map outlines the core as adopted by the county comprehensive plan.

The RPC heard from many citizens who spoke against the expansion at the meeting. The Door County Planning Department also received dozens of letters and comments against the expansion during its slate of open house presentations this August and September.

Mariah Goode, head of the Door County Planning Department, said the RPC essentially told the town that the decision should have been made with more public input.

“The committee members said that, even if it wasn’t technically required, the town should have gone through the statutory procedures for amending the town’s comprehensive plan,” Goode said.

The county comprehensive plan that moves on to the Door County Board of Supervisors for consideration will now include the 2005 town map, with the southern boundary of the core area ending at Summit Road, just north of the Parent property.

Opponents of the core expansion argued that the move was in direct contradiction to the Smart Growth plan that was adopted by the town in 2005. The Smart Growth plan stated that “commercial development should remain within existing commercial areas or contiguous to existing commercial development,” and that the approaches to the downtown core area should remain primarily low- to medium-density single-family residential development with natural roadside vegetation preserved.

Board chairman Jim Parent said the town board was disappointed with the decision, but it’s time to go back and address the issue at the town level with more information and communication.

“We’re going to go back to the townspeople relatively soon to continue the discussion on it and restate our points,” he said.

The town will have to schedule a public hearing notice 30 days in advance of the hearing, then its Plan Commission must review the proposed amendments to the town plan. If changes were recommended, the Plan Commission would forward them to the town board in the form of a resolution. The town would then have to adopt an ordinance to amend the plan before applying to the county for an amendment to the county plan.

Cameron Isaacson, owner of the Baileys Harbor 57 Depot, said he was relieved by the RPC’s decision.

“It’s nice to feel like we got our voices heard,” said Isaacson, who circulated a petition against the expanded core map. “That’s a huge decision for the future of the town, and for so many people to be in the dark about it wasn’t right.”

Though he disagreed with the decision, Parent emphasized that he wants to see them communicating better after the controversy split the community.

“I think our Plan Commission and the Town Board still believe the route we took was correct,” Parent said. “But we all want this thing done and don’t want to have this conflict in the town, where people are taking sides. I’m sincere and the board is sincere in that we all want to come out of this healed.”

The Door County Board of Supervisors will likely approve the comprehensive plan in October. The state requires all counties to finalize their plans by the end of the year.

If the county delayed on approving a plan, actions taken on zoning or subdivision ordinances could be subject to legal challenges because such decisions have to be consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan.

“If you don’t have one,” county Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas said, “it’s tough to defend it.”