So-called "campgrounds" are spreading like invasive weeds. Help preserve Burnett County's rural way of life.
Good news, the Burnett County Board of Supervisors approved the Campground Work Group's Moratorium extension to October 21. This gives the Work Group time to further consider all the issues -- and more time for input!
Supervisor Austin is planning a 200-site "campground" on Spooner Lake, our neighbors to the east in Washburn County. The Board of Adjustment hearing is Friday, July 30th. Click here for more details.
More than 100 Town of Sand Lake citizens met July 7th to question "campground" development. "We can't support so many more people here," said Board of Supervisors Chair Don Taylor. Read the story here.
A vote to adopt the BC Comprehensive Plan will be held on
August 9th at the Town Hall. If you can vote, be there!
The Campground Work Group meets each Friday at 9am.
You can attend the meeting virtually here.
New piers going in on Webb Lake. Read the article.
-->> Please SIGN our Campground Moratorium PETITION <<--
Part of why we win is because of the strength of opposition. Your signature adds to that strength and adds your voice to the conversation.
Burnett County is a beautiful place to live, work, raise a family and retire. People live here and vacation here because of the pristine nature, abundant wildlife and its crystal clear lakes. Tourists and cabin-owners come to get away from crowds, noise and pollution in the city. People who live here stay because of its rural, small-town character, safe and low-key. We all love to fish, boat, hunt, ride or camp.
It makes sense for Burnett County to maintain -- better yet, enhance its outstanding characteristics. That is why Preserve Burnett County (PBC) is fighting high-density RV parks -- or what operators like County Supervisor and Oak Ridge resort owner Steve Austin call "campgrounds."
Time and technology have completely changed “campgrounds” from a temporary, over-night stay in a tent or small pop-up camper. Now they're crammed with long-term, expandable homes on wheels with full kitchens and king-size beds, all with full utility hookups. They have storage sheds and screen porches. Today’s RV Parks create instant communities of 400-600 people that are high-density, unlike anything else around them.
All this was made possible by county ordinances and state statutes that have not kept up with the times, allowing profit-focused developers the opportunity to exploit the intent of specific zoning designations through the use of “conditional use permits,” or CUPs. An approved CUP allows placement in residential or agricultural areas. You end up with 600 campers next to 50 cows. Or 600 campers doubling the population of a tiny lake, darn near overnight.
We need a plan that preserves our precious resources and supports development that is consistent with the comprehensive land use plans that have been enacted by local townships and the county. Local control. And we need to promote economic development that is broad-based and doesn’t concentrate wealth in the hands of a fortunate few. That kind of plan has the support of just about everyone.
"Mom and Pop resorts had 10 cabins and that again for camp sites. They also were spread out over all the lakes, not concentrated on one. Make these things size appropriate and dispersed and the enjoyment of the area will go up, people will have access, tax base will improve and basically people won't have an issue."
"This isn't cabin owner vs. developer. This is developer vs. property tax payer. Don't think these developers have any other motive than to subsidize their business ventures with our property taxes by shoving more and more infrastructure users down our throats with very little tax revenue in return."
"Go read up on Act 67/2017. Steve Austin has the talking points down. It was intentionally written to make it as difficult as possible for local boards and average citizens to have a say about what happens in their communities."
These "campgrounds" create a couple real aggravations. For one, campers in Wisconsin are not required to pay property taxes like a person living in a house or cabin. This leaves the county with no additional tax revenue to fund schools, roads and first responders (law enforcement, firefighters and ambulances).
Ironically, there's also no funding to cover the increasing cost of making sure "campgrounds" are following the rules like the rest of us must.
And the "campground" owner? Development is at the heart of the county's economic health, it's usually good for every member of the community. But the way these campgrounds are zoned, most of the money is funneled into the business man's bank account, not the county's. And the business man is not going to pave the road for you.
A second poke in the eye is that "campgrounds" are allowed to completely skirt zoning laws limiting residential development that apply to everyone else. Today, if you wanted to build on 10 acres of vacant agricultural land, you can build one home. But, if you wanted to build a "campground," you can shoehorn 100 RVs into that same parcel. Huh?? Right.
We are looking for a sane solution. The passing of the four month Campground Moratorium on March 18th is a great start and we thank the County Board of Supervisors! Now they can dig in and figure out what's best for the taxpayers and voters of Burnett County.
Why not put high-density campgrounds in or near commercial districts? They'd be in walking distance of bars and restaurants, recreational and entertainment, not to mention emergency services. Campgrounds in existing or new commercial areas would provide a needed boost to the local economy, revitalizing villages and giving campers an opportunity to sample the many benefits of small-town living. Now that makes sense.
"Webb Lake will now have more campers on it than residents."
"So Steve Austin can be on a county board of supervisors as well as a township board that can approve his developments? And this isn't a conflict of interest because...???"
"Doesn't take a genius to foresee what will happen if you stick 300 boats on a sub-1000 acre lake."
"Most people do not have a problem with development, but with the negative results of it if not managed appropriately. A widespread perception is that existing land use controls and guidance have not kept pace with changing local conditions."
"I've RV'd. And I own a small cabin. This isn't an either-or proposition. But we definitely have to get smarter about where and when we build RV parks and how we pay for the infrastructure to support them."
"It's coming... every Northwoods county should heed the warning. Get a community meeting together and figure out how you want to deal with it. Campgrounds, exploding real estate prices, pricing out locals, more trail use, more trash, more noise and air pollution, more infrastructure needed.... It's not all bad... Set your own destiny as a community."
"There are not enough regulators in Burnett County to monitor these sites. When these permits come up, it has been discovered that many have been non-compliant to environmental regulations and un-resolved septic issues for years and there is not the staff available to police these bad actors."
"We need development in this county. People have to be able to earn a living. But we can't kill the golden goose in the process."
(after the 200-unit Spooner Lake CUP was approved)
"We just dropped a city next to these people in the middle of a wetland."
"I live here because I love the rural way of life. If I wanted crowds, noise, activity, pollution, I'd move to the city."
"The extra traffic would benefit us, but too much extra traffic would also destroy why people come here in the first place."
"This farm has been in our family for three generations - 115 years. If you put 500 people next to a cow pasture, their #1 complaint will be odor."
"Sure, more campers would be great. But it's better to put the campground close to where our businesses already are, then they'll come."
"We can't sell properties that are next to campgrounds, that's not what buyers are looking for. They'll go elsewhere."
"Residents want new, high-density development near the existing commercial areas, supporting the 'smart growth areas' strategy."
"There are less and less lakes I can fish on, there's so many people. The fish don't bite if there's all that racket."
"You pack too many people into a small area, you're just asking for trouble, for burglaries, drunken driving, disorderly conduct, all that sort of thing."
"I'm fine with paying taxes, it supports the schools, roads, fire and sheriff. I owe it to the county for the what I get. Everyone who gets to enjoy this place should pay their share."
Camping is great. This is not camping. These "campgrounds" are high-density communities. Nothing wrong with them... unless there is no infrastructure for them!
This is a perfect storm of demand due to Covid and county ordinances that haven't been updated to address the reality of the situation.
Demand a moratorium so Supervisors get time to study up.
See Supervisor addresses at the bottom of this page.
People who live and recreate in Burnett County have responded strongly to the threat of so-called "campgrounds." Laws as they are currently written do not protect everyone, so until those are changed, we come together to share information and support each other.
BIG SAND, VIOLA LAKE AREA CONCERNED CITIZENS
BIG WOOD LAKE
DEER LAKE ASSOCIATION
THE MINERVA CHAIN
ROONEY LAKE ASSOCIATION ADVOCATES
TABOR LAKE ASSOCIATION
WEBB LAKE AREA CONCERNED CITIZENS
Are you a lake association, civic organization or Facebook group worried about where a so-called "campground" might spring up next? Email us!
Let's build a strong community with good jobs, good environment, good services for all.
Here are the Land Use & Information Committee members.
Please email all the Supervisors to communicate your concerns:
• Norman Bickford, Chair [email protected]
• Craig Conroy, Vice-Chair [email protected]
• Chuck Awe [email protected]
• Chuck Anderson [email protected]
• James Pearson [email protected]
• Brent Blomberg [email protected]
• Jim Paden [email protected]
The LUI Work Group on Campgrounds is comprised of
Craig Conroy, Chuck Awe and Jim Paden.
You can also include these gentlemen:
• Jason Towne, Zoning Administrator [email protected]
• Don Taylor (not on Land Use Comm, he is the Chair of Supervisors) [email protected]