The Kewaunee County Board has approved the sale of a 30-acre parcel in the town of Pierce for use as a campground, despite a letter from the Pierce Town Board favoring an alternate proposal.
Cody and Haley Gille purchased the former campground south of Algoma at E5970 Ninth Road for $60,000 and plan to spend this year on site cleanup and upgrading 44 campsites on the property. According to the plan submitted in their response to a request for proposals, they hope to add another 40 sites by 2024 at a total investment around $300,000.
Randy and Renee Ebert submitted the only other proposal, bidding $30,000 with plans to spend $1 million on multi-family housing and residential amenities.
Supervisor Virginia Haske, who chairs the board’s Finance Committee, said Gille has come forward each time the board has asked for proposals for the land in recent years.
“He’s got very very well thought out plans. I think we need to look at what we need to do to bring business to Kewaunee County,” Haske said. “They always say Kewaunee County is becoming an old county and we need to find ways to bring youn people in. And here we have a young family who want to come in and do a business that is going to bring maybe hundreds of tourists into Kewaunee County who may decide to stay here. I think it’s a win-win for Kewaunee County to let this campground happen.”
A letter from Town Chairman Brian Paplham was read to the board, supporting the Eberts’ proposal because a housing development would add more to the town’s property tax base.
Supervisor Tom Romdenne said the county should consider the highest and best use for the property and noted that the first phase of the Eberts’ development was to be 20 one-unit apartments.
“That kind of housing can be built anywhere,” Romdenne said. “Why would you take a beautiful piece of property, 30 acres that would make an ideal campground and do something else with it? That’s what was driving my vote … I don’t think it was ever the county’s position to put housing on that property.”
Supervisor Dan Olson said besides property tax revenues the committee also looked at the potential for bringing in more sales tax, more spending within the county, and tourism dollars.
The Gilles’ proposal was approved on March 17 on a 13-2 vote, with Supervisors Joe Lukes and John Mastalir voting no.