The Assembly Natural Resources Committee’s approval of a special session bill which clears the way for commercial development on wetlands near Lambeau Field drew criticism on Thursday, even as a key player in the proposed project backed out. “If people want to change the law about wetlands, they should propose that,” said committee member, Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine). “But it’s not the legislature’s job to exempt well-connected individuals from state law.”
The bill’s author, state Representative Jeffrey Mursau (R-Crivitz), said in a press release that the project has been tied up in administrative red tape. A permit for the project had been granted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, but that’s been challenged by the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. “The developer has gone above and beyond negotiating with the DNR to improve his project including eight conditions on the permit in question that will be required by the legislature as well,” Mursau said in the release.
Mursau said the bill affects a 20 acre site and will require filling in of 1.6 of acres low quality wetlands from the 9.3 acres of total wetland. The project includes a conservation easement to protect the remaining unfilled wetlands and boardwalk structure providing wetland education opportunities. He said the project could provide up to 150 jobs. “I’m excited that people are saying Wisconsin is open for business, but that doesn’t mean natural resources are up for sale,” said Mason.
Also on Thursday, Missouri based Bass Pro Shops confirmed that it has dropped its interest in building what would have been Wisconsin’s first Bass Pro Shop as the anchor for the retail development. A company spokesman told the Springfield News-Leader that the firm was “unaware of any wetland issue and have not and will not be in favor of doing anything to harm wetlands wherever they might be.”