The state Department of Natural Resources board has approved handing over a parcel of state park land to help the Kohler Company build a new golf course along Lake Michigan.
The company wants to build the course adjacent to Kohler-Andrae State Park along Lake Michigan. The company wants to use about 5 acres of state park land to build a maintenance facility for the golf course it plans to build on its property just north of the park. Kohler has promised to give the DNR about 9.5 acres adjacent to the park and upgrade the park entrance.
The plan also calls for creating a nearly 2-acre easement in the park for a driveway the Kohler Co. says it needs. Restrictions will be placed on the easement to protect the park, according to the DNR.
About 10 people testified against the land swap Wednesday, saying it's being rushed through and would lead to more noise in the area. The park users urged the board Wednesday to reject the deal, saying it would ruin the park and set a dangerous precedent.
Edward Mueller, whose family owns nearby land, said golf course mowers and other equipment are loud.
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"Kohler's got 250 acres. Let him put the noisy, leaking gasoline-powered maintenance facilities on his property," Mueller said.
DNR Internal Services Division Administrator Doug Haag said the agency has done 25 land exchanges in the last five years and that the land the state is giving up is not vital to the park.
"The 4.59-acre parcel is not being used for any park services or functions and is no longer needed by the department for conservation purposes," Haag said. "We are placing restrictions on the deed, which will help protect the park."
The board voted 5-1 to approve the swap.