Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shadow Wood Landing Opposed by Community

The Shadow Wood Landing development proposed by CFS-LLC, a Minneapolis-based developer, is the subject of two editorials in the Daily Press in as many days. The County Board Members need to pay attention to the public sentiment on this rezone issue. Read a portion below, then click to read the entire commentary.

Shadow Wood Landing project a pie-in-the-sky fantasy
A commentary by Theron O'Connor

My family has owned land in Bayfield County for 100 years. I moved back here in 2008 to retire from my current profession and to start a new business. Now I am both puzzled and distressed by the prospect of a 380-acre commercial rezone of a marginal forest tract in the Town of Russell. It seems like a patently bad idea from a business point of view. It has been negligently, incompetently and illegally executed to date. It appears to provide benefit to only a small cadre of Town of Russell and other insiders. It threatens the interests of adjoining townships and the general population of the area. It has been subjected to an adoption process which has lacked true deliberation at all levels.

As a business proposition, Shadow Wood Landing, as proposed by Minnesota developers CFS LLC, seems preposterous. How many wealthy private airplane owners are going to spend their precious vacation time flying into remote second-growth lowland far from town with no lakeshore, no lake view and not even old growth forest? Intuitively, one would say, “very few, if any.” But what do the data say? Well, nothing. Where is the market research? Where is the business plan? What differentiates this massive project from other failed fly-in resorts around the country and other failed local developments in this area? These questions have not received rigorous attention in the rezone process at any level. This is the largest rezone in Bayfield County history. It should, at a minimum, be contingent upon a strong showing of project viability and clearly demonstrated project financing. If passed, it should require a commitment to and adherence to a step-by-step timetable and standards for accomplishing specific project goals. So far, the county board majority is offering a blank check.

The CFS LLC performance to date has been shocking. Circuit Court Judge Anderson reached only one of the three core issues in the citizen lawsuit opposing the project and yet found emphatically in favor of the plaintiffs and against the CFS LLC project. The other two issues remain in that lawsuit. The Army Corps of Engineers has charged CFS LLC with discharging “dredged or fill material into wetlands abutting West Pikes Creek.” The Department of Natural Resources has issued three citations against CFS LLC for failures related to erosion control and the failure to obtain a discharge permit prior to disturbing the land on its rezoned construction site. This record flies in the face of the pious representations of CFS LLC regarding its concern for so-called “generational sustainability.” The president and CEO of CFS LLC (a young college student from the Twin Cities) is a first-time, completely inexperienced developer. Personal charm does not trump hands-on business savvy with regard to a project of this size. Perhaps that is at the root of this dismal start. The county board majority seems to see no red flags here.

Shady or Shadowy Wood Landing
Letter to the editor by Steph Winter

In my opinion CFS LLC's proposed development of Shadow Wood Landing in the Town of Russell has become a class culture war. Because many members of our town live on the edge of survivability, this is a prime location for developers like CFS to gobble up huge chunks of land for cheap.

What they then choose to do with that land seems to be of little or no consequence to those who live here. Red Cliff tribal members, people who have lived their whole lives here, those who quietly conduct their businesses here (for example, the immediate neighbors to the project and the fruit orchards that lie nearby), and those who move here in retirement or otherwise migrate to this area are being assured of the wide benefits this development will provide. We are told by CFS, LLC President and CEO Annalisa Cariveau that we need to trust her to do the right thing. But why should we?

Over recent weeks and months I've heard about and witnessed an ongoing narrative of subtle harassment, intimidation, and veiled threats aimed at those who speak up about and try to make their concerns known regarding this development even as we're encouraged to offer our input. And, if my neighbors and local businesses are already being pressured into silence at the risk of losing their jobs and right livelihoods before this development begins construction what further manipulations and exploitations can we expect after this project is fully underway?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A look to the future needed in the Town of Russell

Letter to the editor, Monday, March 15, Ashland Daily Press

On March 4, the Town of Russell Planning Commission narrowly passed a motion recommending a zoning change request by CFS, LLC to facilitate the potential project named Shadow Wood Landing, an “exclusive fly-in community” in rural Bayfield County. The 3 -2 vote favoring the re-zone came after a two-hour discussion by local residents. A majority of those who spoke did not favor the re-zone.

The issues centered on jobs, progress, development, community character, and where our society is headed. It is obviously an issue the Bayfield County Zoning Committee needs to consider closely at its upcoming meeting on March 18. They need to discuss and understand the effects of their decision and not just ram the re-zone through.

Some people argue that Shadow Wood is good as it represents progress and would create jobs. Usually these jobs are mostly low-wage, part time non-family supporting. There would be some initial construction jobs but typically, those go to imported workers who leave after completion of the work.

Others suggest we need “living communities” where the emphasis is on families, community, schools, and most of all – what is good for the next generation. Our children are what count – not whether seniors and special privilege people have the latest gadgets, fanciest homes, biggest cars and fastest planes. What can we do as elders, adults and people of power to enhance the quality of life for the next seven generations? The bottom line is — what is best for the next seven generations is a living community complete with young, old, farms, small businesses, schools, and programs that support them.

Is focusing on an exclusive fly-in community for the privileged going to turn our slipping economy and cultural integrity around? Or is that type of model causing our community and economic decay?

There is a growing interest and support for farms, family gardens and farmer’s markets. They are doubling and tripling in numbers and support. A greater and greater number of people are realizing the value of strong individuals, families and communities.

Florida, the state that has focused on the money of seniors and people of special privilege has suffered significantly this last year with decaying schools and a loss of population. A model that focuses only on the well-to-do may flourish for a while but in the end, that narcissistic model is doomed to fail. A model that has a chance of working is one that emphasizes and encourages everyone in the community. We need our families to succeed, flourish and be happy, healthy and vibrant — not just survive.

The Town of Russell and Bayfield County are presently dealing with zoning issues that will directly affect our community. I greatly encourage them to take a long view and look to the future — not only at what is good for a few today.

Ricardo Bowker

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rick Dale, Highland Valley Farm owner, letter to the Bayfield County Zoning Committee

My family and I own and operate Highland Valley Farm in Bayfield Township. After the Russell Klinger Family, we are the nearest resident property owners to the proposed Shadow Wood project. My wife Janet and I have lived and paid taxes in Bayfield County for more than 36 years. The successful establishment of our fruit farm has been the fulfillment of our life’s work.

Starting with a dream and 50 acres of vacant land, we worked and invested to make a home and develop a farm business. Along the way we raised a family—three bright & industrious kids—all of whom have decided to return to their roots to make a life in Bayfield County. In the early years I drove a school bus and did carpentry jobs for neighbors. Janet, an RN, worked first at the Washburn Hospital, then the County Nursing Service, and finally Ashland Hospice. For 18 years following her nursing career she ran a popular licensed child day care in our home. I volunteered as an EMT, provided leadership for the 4H club, and served on my church council. For four years I was an elected supervisor for the Town of Bayfield, during which time I provided leadership for a comprehensive road resurfacing project and the Bayfield Farmland Preservation program. More recently, Janet and I have been active in the Regional Conservancy, the Friends of the Library, the Chamber of Commerce, and numerous other community efforts.

We no longer need to work off the farm. Today, Highland Valley Farm is recognized as a leading producer of blueberries in the State of Wisconsin. We are visited by more than 5,000 pick-your-own customers annually. Our products are distributed to retailers and processors over a five state region. The farm supports three household incomes—and provides 25-35 additional part-time jobs during our summer harvest. We would like to think that our contributions and long tenure in this community count for something.

Our retail customers tell us that a large part of the berry picking experience they return for year after year is the pristine beauty of our valley setting and the peace and quiet they find here as a respite from their hectic urban environment. These are the same qualities that drew our family to this place 36 years ago. Nobody chooses to live near an airport. You wouldn’t –and we didn’t. If a re-zoning allows the construction of a private-for-pleasure airport near us, we know it will degrade our business, degrade the quality of our life, and devalue our property. I am confident that a competent attorney could put a price tag on those threatened values.

And that is the point that I think you should consider. Janet and I were here long before this young woman hatched her non-compliant plan for an exclusive fly-in resort. We are no longer the youngsters who came to Bayfield County 36 years ago. We are considerably older and wiser, heavily invested here, concerned for the future of our family and this community, and not intending to back down or go elsewhere. I was encouraged when Judge Anderson in his recent decision stated that citizens who believe they will be adversely affected by the zoning change do have standing with the courts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Comprehensive Planning already in peril

Letter to the editor
Published: Ashland Daily Press, Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I first became aware of the Wisconsin Comprehensive Planning process in August of 2008, when my town chairman asked me to become a Planning Committee member. Flattered and glad to be involved, I accepted. For the next 16 months, all Bayfield County towns met on a monthly basis, most often at the Great Lakes Visitor Center. Bayfield County Zoning & Planning, together with SEH Planning Consultants out of Minneapolis, helped us to learn about comprehensive planning, and guided us towns to the point of completion of our own individual comprehensive plans.

Throughout the entire process we were assured that each town would always have direct say in what goes into their comprehensive plan and, more important, the land use map which dictates, by category, what each individual parcel of land is approved for what type of use. This is even more sensitive in my own town, which loudly rejected a non-binding referendum to become zoned within the past two years. During those 16-24 months, each town held working meetings of their Plan Committee to develop their own individual comprehensive plan. This all works only if the intent and spirit of the comprehensive planning process is not thwarted by any outside forces, and only if each town understands that once completed, it is not a map and book you put on the shelf and ignore. It is a living process, a living intent for land use that was decided on, then presented to the public at informational meetings for each town. All was completed by Dec. 2009, and the Planning Committees became “Planning Commissions” upon approved resolution(s), appointments of members sworn in for three year terms until 2012, and the full adoption of the comprehensive plan presented. Mission accomplished, right?

The state has informed the county, who in turn has informed the towns involved, that those towns who opted and purchased “brochure” plans in lieu of “full plans” must “blend” their plans with the county plan. This is not the fault of the county, the towns, or SEH. This has taken a great deal of credibility away from the entire process. I’ve read a bit of the Shadow Wood Landing project in the Town of Russell. Now I don’t have a dog in that fight, but here’s the thing. My understanding is that the project is not consistent with their new comprehensive plan. I also understand that even though it has not received the go-ahead, that CFS LLC and their agents have already been charged with three DNR citations for work already started, including no stormwater permit, no erosion control plan and failure to monitor erosion control plan best management practices or have erosion control reports.

These are serious concerns that show that neither the landowner nor CFS LLC and their agents have any regard for anything at all let alone the legal comprehensive plan for the Town of Russell or its intent. It also shows what to expect from those who would use the area that belongs to the taxpayers for their own pleasure, affecting those directly adjacent to the project. Judge John Anderson intervening and doing the right thing regarding how this was/is being handled was spot-on. Once again the spirit and intent of comprehensive planning cannot be ignored.

One caveat given to us all was not to let town boards ignore the process. Sadly this is what has happened in my own town of Pilsen /Moquah, already vulnerable without zoning to undesirable development without regard. A living, working comprehensive plan is the next best thing to being zoned. Shelving it without zoning is reckless.

People always ask that aged-old question: Why don’t more people come to town meetings or otherwise get involved. The answer is that it’s very similar to banging one’s head against the wall. It doesn’t feel good and just pisses you off. I only get involved with processes that work and are taken seriously. I am starting to wonder if I’ve wasted my time. To Donna Kramolis, whose family has owned and operated farmland for over half a century, to Robert Sukala, whose family has been dairy farm operators for over half a century, and to Tom Fratt, an expert in soil analysis, all sworn members of the Planning Commission for the Town of Pilsen, I am sorry that our work has been shelved. The 39 items we listed as “ongoing” in our comprehensive plan, the 39 items we felt important to retain the character and land use in the Town of Pilsen will not be completed. I am proud of our work regardless.

To Karl, Travis, Lisa David and others at Bayfield County Planning and Zoning, and to Mike Darrow and crew at SEH, your work is commendable. I just wish everyone else appreciated the work done the past two years. Work that apparently is being ignored.

Jeff Palicki
Former Chairman Planning Commission
Town of Pilsen/Moquah

Friday, March 12, 2010

Citations filed charging CFS-LLC with environmental violations

Three citations were filed on February 22, in Bayfield Circuit Court charging CFS-LLC, a Minneapolis based corporation who is developing a 380 acre site on Compton road, with failure to control erosion, failure to develop an erosion control plan, and failure to obtain a construction site stormwater permit before land disturbance took place. These violations have a combined maximum penalty of over $44,000. A CFS representative will appear in Bayfield Circuit Court on April 5th to answer to the charges.

The CFS Corporation parcel is slated for a development known as Shadow Wood Landing, a fly-in, resort development with a jet aircraft capable airstrip, hotel, restaurant, bar, gas station, and high density housing. The site's steep hillside was cleared for development, which has resulted in stormwater runoff and erosion of soils into the wetlands that comprise the Pike's Creek headwaters. Pike's Creek is a well-known northern Wisconsin Class I trout stream.

CFS construction activity has also obliterated all evidence of an intermittent stream on this parcel, and destroyed multiple wetlands. This stream, and these wetlands, appear on current USGS and Bayfield County maps, as well as on the maps prepared by CFS-LLC's own engineering consultant.

Wisconsin State DNR and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who were denied access to the construction site by CFS-LLC, were forced to obtain a court order allowing the inspection that revealed these multiple environmental problems. CFS-LLC, subsequently, submitted a wetlands restoration proposal to these agencies to avoid additional citations for violating the Federal Clean Water Act.

At the same time that these violations were occurring, Annalisa Cariveau, CFS-LLC President and CEO, sent out a mailer to local residents, titled "Planting the Facts", in which she states:
"CFS has been proactive and has gone well beyond existing requirements to ensure protection measures are established and are in place when it concerns the environment. We will continue to work with our highly experienced team of professional engineers and planners to follow best practices throughout every phase of the project. Erosion and run off prevention methods have been implemented to protect the land. The ultimate goal for the storm water management plan throughout the entire duration of the project will be to actually provide more contained, better channeled, and cleaner water than it was in its previous over-logged state. Responsible use of best practices to achieve this objective will protect the surrounding environment and important ecosystems from any harmful impact."

Ms. Cariveau also states that "her inspiration for doing this development is a way to give back and do something positive for a community she holds dear to her heart." This developers' utter disregard for state and federal environmental regulations reflects her disingenuous attitude and behavior, and that of the corporation she represents.

CFS-LLC officials were unavailable for comment on these citations issued for violations of state environmental laws.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Town Board Votes Again March 16

It appears that the Town of Russell Board is attempting to wear down the opposition to the CFS LLC 380 acre rezone proposal that was tabled at last night's meeting. Seventeen community members spoke in opposition and 1 in favor of the CFS Corporation's proposal to rezone 380 acres within a forested rural district, to build a proposed fly-in resort known as Shadow Wood Landing. The Board voted overwhelmingly in favor of tabling the rezone.

A mere 18 hours after the meeting adjourned, the Town called another special meeting for Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at the Community Center to take a revote on the rezone proposal.

The CFS-LLC rezone request of the 380 acre parcel in the Town of Russell will be heard at the County Zoning Meeting just 2 days later, on March 18th. The meeting schedule is as follows, unless the Town reposts the meeting date and/or time:

  • Town of Russell Board votes on rezone, March 16, 7 pm
  • Zoning Committee votes on rezone, March 18, 1 pm
  • County Board votes on rezone, March 30, 6 pm

Monday, March 8, 2010

Town Meeting Tuesday at 7 pm

The Town of Russell is meeting Tues, March 9, 7 pm, at the Community Center, to vote on the original 2008 rezone application, which has now been resubmitted by CFS-LLC. Annalisa Cariveau, CFS-LLC president and ceo, has asked the citizenry, at last Thursday’s Plan Commission Meeting, to disregard her widely disseminated proposed plans for the parcel and just vote for the rezone and trust CFS-LLC to do what's right for the community.

CFS-LLC is requesting that 44.4 acres currently zoned Forestry (F-1) be rezoned commercial. Most of the currently zoned A-1 land will be relocated from one area of the parcel to another in order to accomodate a jet runway, and the remainder of the parcel with be changed from F-1 to R-RB. So what is currently 100 acres of A-1 and 280 acres of F, will become 44.4 acres of C, 247.3 acres of R-RB, and 78.6 acres of A-1. Over 90% of the parcel is slated for rezoning.

At previous Town and County meetings, Ms. Cariveau has outlined the Corporation’s plan for a large upscale residential resort development that will include a boutique hotel, restaurant, gas station, high density housing, and a jet airstrip.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bill Bechtel sends letter to Sierra Club membership

Be informed. Read Rick Olivo's Ashland Daily Press article, Shadow Wood developers cited for DNR violations.

The CFRLU just received from Bill Bechtel, former staff director to the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, an open letter he sent to the Sierra Club. Bill writes:

"As former staff director to the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, I continue to be involved in issues relating to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the Bayfield peninsula.

"I have been asked by a citizens group if I would alert the Sierra Club to a serious threat in the form of a project proposed for that area -- described as "Shadow Wood Landing," an exclusive "fly-in community" featuring a private jet airport to serve a community of luxury condominiums and a hotel complex, planned by a Minneapolis corporation, to be built on 380 acres of what is now a heavily forested portion of the Bayfield peninsula.

"It is hard to imagine a project more threatening to this pristine area. Bayfield has been described as one of the most desirable small cities in the Nation, and the National Lakeshore has been described by National Geographic magazine as the most "pristine" unit in the national park system -- partly because its gateway is the city of Bayfield, on the shores of Lake Superior and its beautiful Chequamegon Bay. "

Read the full letter

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shadow Wood developers cited for DNR violations

(Excerpted and modified from original Ashland Daily Press article by Rick Olivo)

Developers of the proposed Shadow Wood Landing project in northern Bayfield County have been handed another setback with a series of four Department of Natural Resources citations.

The citations charge developers with failing to obtain stormwater discharge permits, erosion control issues and failing to develop or implement a stormwater management plan.

The charges were filed Jan. 15, and were set for an initial appearance hearing in Bayfield County Circuit Court on March 1, but on the motion of District Attorney Craig Haukaas, were dismissed. The charges had been improperly filed against Annalisa Cariveau, president and chief executive officer of CFS LLC, instead of the corporation itself. Charges will be refiled perhaps as early as later this week.

Read full article.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thanks to all who joined our celebration

What a wonderful celebration we had yesterday at Stage North. Jason Melek, Evan and Paul, and Floydian Slip provided the great music. Two County Board candidates, Beth Meyers and Bill Bussey, spoke to the crowd and encouraged everyone to vote on April 6.

CFRLU sincerely thanks everyone who shared in our celebration and contributed to our campaign. A special thanks to all the musicians who provided entertainment. Thanks to Bill Bussey and Beth Meyers for sharing their thoughts with us, and thank you to Noah Siegler and his staff at Stage North for hosting our event.