Emmet OK's Windwood rezoning, multiple restrictions

TOWN OF EMMET — With no members of the general public present on Thanksgiving Eve Wednesday, the Emmet Town Board approved rezoning a 14-acre parcel on the former Windwood of Watertown property, albeit with numerous deed restrictions.

The property, which includes the clubhouse, will move from General Agriculture (AG) to Convenience Commercial (C-C), with the extensive caveats.

The remainder of the property owned by Windwood, LLC will be rezoned from AG to a RD-Rural Development classification to allow for homes to be built if any new property owner would choose to do so. Restrictions, however, come with this, as well.

In the brief meeting, the board acknowledged Windwood of Watertown LLC’s application for the rezoning and members agreed the proposal would be in the best interest of the public — with the exception of certain uses within the C-C District which, according to the deed restriction, would not be consistent with sound land-use planning under existing conditions in the area.

The deed restriction reads, in part, “Windwood, LLC is willing to restrict the allowable use of the property so as to permit rezoning of the property to C-C, but not allow those certain uses which the Emmet Town Board deems to be contrary to the public interest and sound land-use planning.”

The restrictions imposed Wednesday state the property may only be used for business offices; caterers; churches; professional offices; restaurants, including ones serving alcoholic beverages with a valid alcohol license; banquet facilities; gardening establishments; nurseries and greenhouses. The restrictions read that the site may be used as a “club” — but not a strip club or similar entertainment establishment. Also prohibited are clubs that include the discharge of firearms or archery. General farming will be permitted, but this will not include farms operated for the disposal of sewage or rubbish, fur farms, stock or poultry businesses.

The document does not restrict the owner of the rezoned property from applying for conditional uses. A rezoning of the property will also terminate the restrictions put in place by the town board Wednesday. The restrictions established will be permanent and are to be interpreted as a covenant coming with the land.

The town board’s approval of the rezoning comes following months of contentious meetings with the Town of Emmet Planning Committee, Windwood of Watertown, LLC and residents who live near the former country club.

Jeanne Whitish, president and one of the owners of Madison Golf and Development Group of Middleton, which owns Windwood, met several times with Emmet officials to present plans for possible continued usage of the clubhouse and surrounding rural/residential lots. Her proposals, and those of another party wishing to buy Windwood and create an RV park, were consistently met with resistance from residents living near the former golf course.

Windwood, on Dodge County Highway CW, for sale for two years, includes a 15,000-square-foot, two-story banquet hall and three land parcels.

At the time of its approval Wednesday, members of the town board agreed the matter was thoroughly discussed over a number of months, with Chairman Bill Nass telling the Daily Times he and his board colleagues are comfortable with their decision. Nass said it closely resembles other such agreements that have been reached around Wisconsin, when similar matters have arisen.

The Windwood rezoning matter now moves to the Dodge County Planning Committee, then to the county board for final approval, likely in January of 2020.

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