Kohler golf course proposal vote delayed

TOWN OF WILSON – The Town of Wilson’s Plan Commission did not make a recommendation Wednesday night about whether to grant a conditional use permit for a new Kohler golf course.

Commission members say they want more information from Kohler before making a decision.

Kohler Company wants to build an 18-hole championship course on 247 acres of undeveloped land it owns near Kohler Andrae State Park in Sheboygan County.

Town of Wilson residents filled the town’s plan commission meeting, most with concerns and questions about a golf course invading their neighborhood.

“Is building a golf course an appropriate way of getting rid of invasive species?” said James Schultz of the Town of Wilson. “Chainsaws and bulldozers are hardly the right tools.”

Kohler Company already has two courses in the area at both Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run. Both have hosted major PGA events.

This latest course proposal is in its early stages.

“This golf course is a special piece of property,” said Michael Belot of Kohler Company. “Therefore we feel it can be a golf course ultimately ranked in the top 50 in the world, but as part of that we want to be environmental stewards.”

To prove its environmentally friendly goals, Kohler Company is seeking Audubon Certification. It is an international certification that rewards courses for high standards in protecting water quality, conserving natural resources, and providing wildlife habitats.

“We want to work with our neighbors so we listen to their concerns but it’s also important to us, Kohler Company, as part of our overall sustainability mission to involve Audubon throughout this process,” said Belot.

Gaining Audubon Certification is something new for Kohler Company. Its courses at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run don’t have that designation.

“It is hard to understand how destroying a large number of trees, altering wetlands, building fairways and greens, paved roads, and buildings will increase diversity of vegetation and enhance wildlife habitat,” said Schwartz.

Beyond receiving a conditional use permit from the Town of Wilson, Kohler Company still needs permits from the DNR and state before construction can begin.

Kohler Company would like the new course to open in the summer of 2017.

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