Ho-Chunk Casino seeks RV park

The Delton, Wis., Plan Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for a recreational vehicle park adjacent to the Ho-Chunk Casino at a meeting on May 19, and construction could start as soon as June 3, according to the hotel’s manager.

The commission approved the permit after hearing objections from another campground operator and officials running the nearby Baraboo-Dells Airport, the Wisconsin Dells Events reported. A Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics employee also cautioned the board that just because a development complies with one ordinance on height surrounding the airport, it may not comply with FAA rules.

Jon Warner, executive hotel manager at the Ho-Chunk Casino, said the park will be equipped to handle even the most luxurious recreational vehicle models that exist.

“It’s intended to be an extension of the hotel facility. Our goal is to give our customers at Ho-Chunk Gaming-Wisconsin Dells a wide variety of choices. Our ultimate goal in our RV park is not necessarily a campground but RV parking. Currently we hold 20 to 30 RV vehicles in our parking lot from day to day, so this is just an extension of our parking lot,” Warner said.

He also said Ho-Chunk Gaming will be applying for a sign permit and campground permit, although he added, “I think it’s more of a glorified parking lot, personally,”

According to the town’s zoning administrator, Rob Roth of General Engineering, the RV park will feature 49 sites, an 1,800 square foot building with restrooms and showers, laundry and maintenance quarters. The entrance will be 400 feet south of North Reedsburg Road, according to Roth’s report. The exit will take up a corner of a present parking lot to the south of the proposed park.

The report goes on: “Water and sewer utilities will connect to the existing Ho-Chunk Nation systems with storm water management draining to five proposed ponds and later to the existing dry detention pond located to the northeast. Trash and recycling collection will be provided on a concrete pad enclosed in cedar fencing.”

Brent Gasser, operator of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, opposed the hotel’s plans, saying occupancy at even his business is down.

“It is not because we’re not the most award-winning, not because we’re not the most preferred park, only because there’s not a necessity with the economic development of Wisconsin Dells between the hotels and other campgrounds to build another campground in the town or anywhere else in Wisconsin Dells for that matter,” Gasser said.

Scott Brummond, an employee with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics, said the FAA has an online tool so developers can determine if the height of buildings and objects near the airport are hazardous to the airport operations, and he encouraged the parties involved to be aware of it. Just because a project complies with one ordinance, it may not with another, he said.

He also said other hazards around airports can be plantings or anything that draws wildlife and concentrations of people off the end of the runways is dangerous. Some types of lighting can be distracting to pilots, he said.

Cheryl Giese, a city of Baraboo employee and airport manager, said on condition of accepting funding, the airport has an agreement with the Bureau of Aeronautics to be vigilant about the activities that happen nearby and risks losing funds if it doesn’t take action to prevent them.

She provided information about how the airport helps the local economy, but that noise from the airport could bother people at the park, and she is also concerned about safety.

“It’s just something we can’t support,” she said of the RV park.

Then resident Warren Trager spoke. “I think the city of Baraboo will do anything possible to stifle growth in the town of Delton and the town of Baraboo and this is ridiculous. And as far as the aeronautics people questioning it, I’m not sure why. Because you go to Minneapolis, you go to all these big airports with buildings all over the place, or even you go to Hawaii and all the landing strips are right on the ocean. Is there a reflection on the ocean? I don’t think so. I think this is a bunch of bologna,” he said.

Tom Pinion, zoning administrator for Baraboo, criticized the commission for not following its proper procedures and that the conditional use permit for the park would negatively impact adjacent land uses, given the slow moving recreational vehicles on the highway, cause air pollution and also that the commission was considering making an exception to its rule that a minimum separation of 25 feet be required between RVs.

In the end, the commission reasoned that because the density was nine sites per acre, below the maximum of 25 sites per acre, the park could be approved. Other conditions the commission placed on the Ho-Chunk Gaming was that the RV sites be subject to room tax and that it not complain about noise from the airport. Long term residency is prohibited.

Also the Nation needs approval from the Department of Natural Resources for its storm water plan and that the 15-foot driveway width be for one-way traffic.

Delton Town Board approval of the Plan Commission’s action is on the agenda for the 2 p.m. meeting Monday.