Windwood rezoning invites concerns

Town of Emmet residents:

Jeanne Whitish and Madison Golf and Development of Middleton are at it again! Having failed in their “surprise attack” bid last spring to have the Windwood property rezoned to enable its transformation into a campground, they regrouped and have formulated a new “smoke and mirrors” campaign.

In its Oct. 2nd edition, the Watertown Daily Times reported that Whitish and Madison Golf will “present plans for possible continued usage of [Windwood’s] clubhouse as a restaurant with rural/residential lots surrounding.” They are asking for the 78-acre parcel that includes the clubhouse (by far the largest of the three that make up the property) to be rezoned as a commercial/convenience classification and are looking to rezone the other two parcels (totaling 49 acres) to rural development. This is where the shell game starts.

Simply because the commercial/convenience classification permits the establishment of a restaurant does not mean one will necessarily be established, and Ms. Whitish is very carefully vague and noncommittal about the parcel’s likely usage or who the buyer might be.

According to Town of Emmet Clerk Deb Carlson, “’They are anticipating a restaurant, or other allowable use.’” It’s the “other allowable uses” that worry me. Among the 80-some possibilities are such things as arcades, racetracks, rifle ranges, drive-in theaters and parking lots. The same sort of ambiguity and apprehension surrounds the rural development classification requested by Whitish and her cohorts for the other two parcels. Included in the conditional uses under this classification is public or private campgrounds. That’s right, campgrounds!

True, most of the more objectionable uses would be subject to public hearing, but the requested rezonings at least puts them on the table. Given the fact that the ex-golf course was carved out of low-lying wetland and most of the property is therefore unsuitable for residential development, it seems misleading to tout the building of homes as a prime objective. Few, I think, would argue vehemently against utilizing Windwood’s clubhouse as a restaurant or residential development of the property. What is troubling, however, is the feeling that we’re being given the old bait-and-switch. I fear what enterprises other than a restaurant and family dwellings might conceivably end up in our backyards once the door is opened for the consideration of other allowable, but far less palatable, options.

If you share my concern over Ms. Whitish’s cautious, indefinite language and reluctance to disclose prospective buyers, if the building of more than a very few homes on the wetland that constitutes much of the Windwood property seems as improbable to you as it does to me, if you too are afraid that a campground — or perhaps something even worse — might still be forced upon us, please attend the planning commission meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 23, to voice your opinion.

Bruce Martin

Watertown

Editor’s note: This letter was edited for length.

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