Current Issues

The Committee For Responsible Land Use, in its role as a trusted, reliable source of accurate information for the community on current land use issues, offers this report on a proposed 380 acre development in the Town of Russell.

The Waypoint project, formerly known as Shadow Wood Landing, is a venture of CFS, LLC, a Minneapolis based limited liability corporation with no prior development experience. The proposed development plans for this former piece of working forest land, located five miles south of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Gaylord A. Nelson Wilderness area, include a private use jet capable airport, hangars, hangar homes, private residences, a fueling station, an airplane repair-maintenance facility, and possibly a restaurant, bar, and various other commercial concerns. In a recent Town Comprehensive Plan Commission hearing, CFS declined to discuss the previously articulated details of their project and stated that they are not required by County Ordinance, or State Statutes, to share information about the complete plan for their development. This leaves residents wondering why a project that the developers' spokesperson, attorneys, and media relations firms, have presented as a beneficial  addition to the area, is cloaked in secrecy. What is being hidden from the community?

The proposed private airport, exclusively for the use of Waypoint property owners, is for a 4000' asphalt runway - 1000' longer than the airport on Madeline Island. This airport would accommodate private business class jet aircraft, and would generate substantial noise and light pollution. The aircraft traffic will be disruptive to Bayfield peninsula residents and visitors, and would negatively impact the tourism economy critical to the economic prosperity of the region. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Gaylord A. Nelson Wilderness area are directly north of the proposed runway, and any aircraft traffic, particularly low “flightseeing” traffic, would be objectionable and disruptive to Lakeshore visitors.

The planned high density housing in the midst of forest and agricultural land constitutes inappropriate urban sprawl, and is inconsistent both with the rural character of the area for which it is proposed, and the expressed values of the great majority of Bayfield peninsula residents, as reported in the recent Bayfield County Comprehensive Planning Survey. The Town of Russell Comprehensive Plan, and Future Land Use Map, clearly designate the areas adjacent to Red Cliff and along Highway 13 outside of Red Cliff, as the preferred and only appropriate site for high density housing and commercial development. The proposed Waypoint project, at the Compton Road location, is not located in these designated areas, and would negatively impact local residents, agribusinesses, tourism, the National Lakeshore, and wildlife.

CFS’ statement that the residents of Waypoint would be contributing significant real estate taxes to support local public service budgets, ignores the local governmental expenditures which would be required to support CFS’ airpark with some 100-280 residences. Findings of a study by the Wisconsin Land Use Research Program shows that residential development costs local Wisconsin governments an average of $1.11 for every $1 generated in local tax revenues, contrasted to the average $0.22 productive farm and forest lands cost for every $1 generated in tax revenues. Local police and fire protection resources, already stretched thin and suffering from budget constraints, cannot assume the additional burden of supporting this development. Roads and bridges in the immediate area of this proposed development are completely inadequate to handle the increased traffic that would result from this project, and will require substantial upgrades, or complete replacement, and maintenance, at taxpayer expense.

No plan has been offered by the developer to mitigate the large amount of wastewater and raw sewage, which a residential and commercial development of this magnitude would generate. Storm water runoff, burdened with a variety of toxins from the acres of deforested and/or paved land and airstrip, would enter the fragile Pikes Creek Watershed and substantially harm this important ecosystem. Pikes Creek is designated as a Class I, high quality trout stream that sustains populations of wild trout. According to USDA’s National Resources Conservation Services soils maps, 100% of the CFS Compton Road property has “very limited” suitability for septic tank absorption fields. “Very limited”, by definition, indicates that “the soil has one or more features that are unfavorable for the specified use”. Since a holding tank(s) for waste produced by this airport, 100-280 residences, and multiple commercial enterprises is not a viable option, sewer lines would need to be extended from Red Cliff - at substantial cost to Town of Russell residents – to support this development. Additional costs would be incurred if existing wastewater treatment facilities in Red Cliff require expansion to accommodate this increased volume.

A development of this magnitude would consume a huge amount of water - up to 1,000 gallons per day per occupied housing unit. The impact of this withdrawal on the aquifer and, thus, area farms, residences and streams, has not been studied and is, therefore, unknown.

The Waypoint project clearly does not meet the letter, or spirit, of the Town of Russell Comprehensive Plan. The Town specifically mapped future commercial development in, and adjacent to, the Village of Red Cliff, where public services and supporting infrastructure currently exist. The overarching goal of the Russell Comp Plan reads: “Our rural character is comprised primarily of a relatively undeveloped place, rich in natural beauty. Forests, woodlands, the natural landscape and vegetation predominate over the built environment outside of the core business area for the Red Cliff Reservation. To the extent possible, these areas should be preserved.”

The Bayfield County Committee for Responsible Land Use, upon consideration of these important and substantial issues, opposes the Waypoint, aka Shadow Wood Landing, project and airport. Contact us by email if you would like more information about the CFS LLC project, the Town of Russell Comprehensive Plan or planning process, or the Bayfield County Comprehensive Plan.

Bayfield County Comprehensive Plan 2010
Town of Russell Comprehensive Plan
Timeline of 380 acre CFS property development process
Documents related to the CFS development process

"Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal."
 ...Aldo Leopold