The proposed expansion of Heartwood Resort along the lower Namekagon River has been denied after a meeting yesterday in Shell Lake. The Washburn County zoning committee meeting was attended by a standing room only crowd. The committee found several pieces of missing information in the application for a conditional use permit.
Heartwood Resort recently proposed a 140-unit campground for RVs at its site west of Trego. The facilities would be geared toward visitors who want to use ATVs and similar vehicles.
The zoning committee found that Heartwood’s application was missing information about wells, septic systems, and shelters such as shower houses.
River advocates are concerned the development would lead to major increases in traffic, noise, and water pollution. Heartwood is located along a particularly remote and scenic stretch of river, and adjacent to popular Howell Landing.
”When you kayak or canoe this incredibly beautiful stretch of the river, it feels like you are in an undeveloped wilderness,” wrote Wild Rivers Conservancy executive director Deb Ryun in a letter to the committee. “Allowing a 140-unit RV campground here, the equivalent of creating a small town of 280-560 people or more on the edge of this national park, does not make sense for so many reasons.”
A group called Preserve Washburn County also helped organize opposition to the proposal. Last year, it urged the Washburn County board to form a committee to update its campground rules in the face of new development proposals like Heartwood’s, an effort which is ongoing.
“Make no mistake – the applicant will be back with an updated plan and more details,” Preserve Washburn County says. “Land speculators count on wearing down the public with one application after another. But we know the game. We’re set up for the long haul.”
The committee has met approximately a dozen times since October and is advancing changes to the county’s ordinances and zoning rules to manage an explosive growth in proposed RV parks and campgrounds in the past couple years. Revisions have now been drafted and will be considered by the zoning committee at its meeting on May 1. If it passes, the rules will need approval from the county board of supervisors.