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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Village of Sister Bay, to the rescue

I wish I could say that I expected more out of my home county, but unfortunately, this kind of asinine behavior has become the status quo up there.

Developers have long known that Door County lakefront property is gold, and they
have been mining it for decades. Now it looks like some local political leaders are realizing that as well.

The Village of Sister Bay was braced for a three-story condominium complex to be built almost on top of its downtown municipal beach when members of its board of trustees began wondering: If this property is so valuable, why don't we buy it ourselves?

So they did.

This little village with a full-time population of just over 800 and an annual budget of $2.7 million is about to become the proud owner of 371.36 feet of shoreline on northern Green Bay. Cost: $4.9 million.

"That's a large amount of money for the local people," said village Trustee Andrew Nocker. "Yet for me, right from the very beginning, it was a straightforward thing. It was a one-time opportunity. It will not ever come again."

Just three days before a rival suitor was scheduled to appear before the village Planning Commission last month to unveil plans for a new condominium complex and hotel, the village trustees swooped in and grabbed the land.

Rather than bring in a new business, a new revenue source for the County, a new tourist destination, new development, progress, innovation, anything of the sort, Sister Bay decided to, as the Journal Sentinel so accurately describes it, "swoop in," and purchase land they didn't need with a price tag they can't afford.

Door County has plenty of "undeveloped" land. Sister Bay is claiming that they needed to buy this property to ebb the flow of those awful condos and resorts (you know, the ones bringing in young professionals, providing jobs, and increasing corporate tax revenues) and to create yet another beach for the area. Completely unnecessary, but that won't stop them. What burns me the most is that there was a developer already lined up and ready to purchase the land, before the Village Board used their positions to their own advantage, pushed him out, and screwed Door County taxpayers a little harder.

With this kind of forward-thinking, this kind of pro-economic development outlook, remind me again why my peers and I should stay in this state after graduation?