SHEBOYGAN — Pending the results of ongoing lawsuits, Sheboygan will most likely be home to Kohler Company's newest golf course just off Kohler-Andrae State Park.
The Sheboygan City Plan Commission approved Kohler's application for a Conditional Use Permit to construct the golf course on its company-owned property north of the state park between Black River and Lake Michigan. This means that assuming all outstanding five lawsuits fall in the favor of Kohler Company, they will immediately be able to begin construction.
"Unfortunately, various aspects of Kohler's proposed golf course project have been challenged in six different lawsuits. Kohler remains committed to resolving those lawsuits and to developing its new course," the company's application states. "However, since lawsuits take time to resolve, Kohler needs to seek the necessary conditional use permit from the City to avoid further time delays—aiming to be poised to commence construction when all lawsuits are resolved."
The application added that Kohler is expecting the outstanding lawsuits may take "more than an additional year" to resolve.
About the project
Kohler's plan proposes an 18-hole championship-caliber public golf course, clubhouse and support amenities including a restaurant on approximately 250 acres of privately-owned land by Kohler.
An economic impact study by S.B. Friedman Development Advisors estimates the new course will generate nearly $21 million in annual economic input and will create 124 new jobs in the city. The study projects a $6.5 million boost in hospitality, retail food and beverage industries and an additional 22,000 hotel room nights in Sheboygan County.
In Tuesday's meeting, Brian Doudna, Executive Director for the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation voiced his support for the project in the following letter.
One of the major objections from community members is how the new course will impact traffic near their residences and at the state park. A traffic analysis was submitted with Kohler's application by Excel Engineering. The study found that current start park traffic sees about 220 vehicles per hour during "peak hourly traffic". The proposed golf course traffic would generate an additional 96 vehicles during peak hour.
Due to the significant increase, Kohler has proposed the addition of a roundabout using the existing entrance to the state park on Beach Park Lane located on County Highway V, as the render below shows.
Access through residential neighborhoods was investigated but "not recommended due to traffic impacts to area residents," according to the plan. Additionally, multiple routes originating off 12th Street through the park were investigated, but the roundabout was determined "more environmentally impactful".
This is the issue where most opposition has risen to the golf course project. In fact, the Friends of the Black Forest are just one of the few entities challenging Kohler legally.
Kohler's plan would cut more than 50% of the woodlands on the property and would not cut off public beach access at the park.
Though technically the plan still meets natural resource protection regulations, this point was heavily opposed during the public hearing session of Tuesday's meeting.