Proposed Law Draws Resort Owners' Ire
A proposal to regulate camping in Prairie Lake, Wis., has the resort owners and the community frustrated, according to WEAU-TV 13, Eau Claire, Wis.
The proposal says campgrounds can only have one campsite for every 12 residents of Prairie Lake. For campground owners such as Frank Keller, who owns the Shady Grove Resort; that would mean dropping from 23 sites to 11 or 12. Keller, who has owned the resort for five years, said the proposal would force him out of business.
The residents and resort owners say there aren't any problems with the current resorts, so they want to know why the town is considering new laws.
"It would be a revenue thing to the point where I would lose a considerable amount of revenue in the campground and most likely lose half of my campsites by the ordinance the way it stands right now," Keller says.
"And I see it as another layer of government bureaucracy on top of something that's already in place," Keller adds.
That's because the new law would require owners to get a town license in addition to their state license. The ordinance would also charge resort owners a $10 licensing fee per campsite per year.
Many of the 65 people at a recent public hearing just wanted one question answered: why are the new laws necessary?
"The ordinance itself addresses the thought that the town feels it has a need to enact this ordinance to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens," says Planning Commission Chairman Dan Brinkman.
But resort owners say there is no reason to fix what isn't broken, and they're worried this could take a toll on tourism in the entire area.
"We also have a big fear that if they are allowed to take a foothold here, what's to stop it from happening to another township and it could drastically hurt tourism," Keller says.
That would be a big blow. The Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners says Barron County resorts bring in $14 million every year.
The board will vote on the new laws on July 10. If they do approve any changes, resorts would have 60 days to comply.