In a theme heard over and over again in government meetings across the U.S., the Sawyer County zoning committee in northern Wisconsin is considering whether to encourage campground development and expansion of current camping facilities, as well as the creation of RV parks and their conversion to a condominium form of ownership.
Phil Nies, who attended the Dec. 1 zoning meeting as a representative of the Sawyer County Lakes Forum (SCLF), asserted that the SCLF feels the current ordinance is adequate with its main concern centering on shoreline density, according to the Sawyer County Record, Hayward, Wis. Nies stated that most camping areas in Sawyer County are seasonal or permanent and said that new campgrounds or RV parks will do nothing to enhance camping or add more visitors to the county.
Nies believes that if campgrounds were to be developed in the county, they would most likely become permanent or seasonal sites anyway. He also stated that more camping in the county would put increased pressure on area lakes.
Nies said if new campgrounds are developed, townships or even the county should be responsible for their development.
Committeeman Bruce Miller noted that future development of the Tuscobia Trail in southern Sawyer County will be a draw for ATV and recreation enthusiasts, and providing campgrounds for these people is essential, but that many of these facilities will be located near the Chippewa River.
Another SCLF member, Bruce Meyers, stated that the forum is most concerned with water quality of both lakes and rivers. He further asserted that increasing shoreline camping density would result in an increase in use of those shorelines.
However, Meyers’ argument was countered by committee member Fred Zietlow who asked if the SCLF would object to campgrounds along shorelines if there were adequate storm water management plans in place. Meyers replied that many such plans have been ill-designed in the past and said that the real question is one of shoreline density.
But committee legal counsel Tom Duffy addressed the overall question: Will there be new campground development, since it is more profitable for a campground owner to condo his property to gain the most financial benefit.
Duffy stated that those who purchase in a condominium area own only what is above ground – in a sense, the “box” above the land itself. Condo owners still do not own the land.
Miller maintained that campgrounds cater to “people of average means” who might not have the financial means to purchase lake property in Sawyer County. In this, Miller suggests that those who camp in the area might turn out to be future property owners and residents of the area. The exposure to Sawyer County and all it has to offer seems to be the central reason for campground development in the first place, he said.