Kohler Co. wants Sheboygan to annex proposed golf course site

500 acres in Town of Wilson located along Lake Michigan

Kohler Co. Golf Course. Photo by Army Corps. of Engineers.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:13 pm

The Kohler Co. wants 500 acres of land, including the site of a golf course it wants to develop along Lake Michigan, annexed into the city of Sheboygan from the Town of Wilson.

The company published a notice of intent in the Sheboygan Press on Friday, saying the city is more fiscally stable to serve as a host for a “world-class golf destination.”

Kohler Co. Golf Course. Photo by Army Corps. of Engineers.
Kohler Co. golf course plans. Photo by Army Corps. of Engineers.

“Our 18-hole, public golf course will be a tremendous economic benefit to the region, creating hundreds of jobs and an annual, multimillion dollar positive economic impact,” said Dirk Willis, group director of golf for Kohler Co.’s Hospitality and Real Estate Group in a written statement. “It is in the public’s best interest to have the project be located in a financially stable municipality like the City of Sheboygan, which is able to provide on a long-term basis the appropriate level of services to both the project and residents.”

Kohler Co. has been planning an 18-hole course since 2015. It will be built on 247 acres of land along Lake Michigan that the company has owned in the Town of Wilson, south of the city of Sheboygan, for 75 years.

The course has been designed by Hall of Fame golf course architect Pete Dye and will join Kohler Co.’s two other courses in Sheboygan County, Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run.

In March, Kohler Co. submitted permit applications for its proposed golf course to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The updated plans reduced the wetland impact from 25 acres to 3.69 acres.

The potential annexation would not have any impact on the ongoing review by the DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers, Kohler Co., Willis said.

“People understand that Kohler Co. has an established track record of good business and environmental stewardship, and we are committed to being a good neighbor following all of the municipal, state and federal regulations that apply,” Willis said.

The Sheboygan city administrator Darrell Hofland said Kohler Co. will submit its completed annexation petition by mid-May and it will be on the city’s plan commission agenda for discussion May 30.

Kohler Co. has expressed its desire to host at least two informal public meetings on the project and the Common Council has also indicated it would host a public meeting, Hofland said.

The plan commission will likely vote on the matter in June before the full council votes on the rezone request related to the annexation and a development agreement in June or July, Hofland said.

Hofland said the city is appealing to Kohler Co. because it can provide police, fire and water service to the property, which the town cannot. Water mains would need to be extended to the property.

“The city does not actively pursue annexations,” Hofland said. “It is at a property owner’s request to join a city or village.”

The Town of Wilson will discuss the proposal in closed session tonight and likely make a decision in open session, although what that will be is still unknown, said Town Chairman John Ehmann.

Ehmann was cautious to speak without being advised by the town attorney. He said there are still many unanswered questions because the parcel Kohler Co. is seeking to annex does not border the city of Sheboygan.

“They are proposing a path through the town,” Ehmann said. “It also looks like they are annexing some state land. This is a very unusual type of annexation they are seeking.”

Hofland said in the annexation petition submitted to the Sheboygan Press, there is a connection identified where the township property and the city connect. It is on the city’s southeast border near the Riverdale Country Club, he said.

“By state law it must be a connection,” he said. “It could be 10 feet (wide) or a half mile, it just has to be a connection.”

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