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.
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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?
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