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Wisconsin DNR tentatively posed to approve pier permit on busy Eagle River chain channel

A plan for proposed piers on the channel between Eagle and Voyager Lakes on the Eagle River Chain.
Wisconsin DNR
A plan for proposed piers on the channel between Eagle and Voyager Lakes on the Eagle River Chain.

A major condo and restaurant development in Eagle River is being met with some opposition.

One part of the project involves placing piers in a narrow channel on the Eagle River Chain.

The Wisconsin DNR held an informational meeting Wednesday night for people to learn more about the project, ask questions, and give comments.

Kansas-based developer The Dalmark Group wants to transform the former Lake Forest Golf Course in Eagle River into a community of condos called “The Crossing at Lake Forest”.

According to its website, the multi-phase development is expected to include dozens of condos, walking trails, a clubhouse, and boat rentals.

Wednesday’s DNR meeting via Zoom was solely focused on one aspect of the project: piers the group wants to install on the property's southern edge.

The developers want to put in 18 permanent piers with 34 boat slips.

One section would be for boaters to dock to use the restaurant the developers are planning to build.

The other section would be for boat rentals.

Zachary Nicols with Dalmark spoke at the meeting. He said when installing the piers, work would also be done to help protect the shoreline from erosion.

“Creating this area will provide a multitude of things. One of them is it removes the current obstruction within the waterway, which of those two trees are currently extending out into the waterway. It also creates an enhanced habitat area for fish and wildlife,” he said. “By placing the trees in the manner that we're proposing, it also creates a wave break to protect this area of the shoreline where there is some existing erosion occurring.”

Many people who owned properties on the chain spoke in opposition to the project during the meeting.

The biggest concern raised was the increased boat traffic in an already congested area.

Delmark wants to build the piers in the channel that connects Eagle and Voyageur Lakes.

People argued there’s already too much traffic with boating laws like no wake not being enforced and that this project will reduce the width of the already narrow channel.

“My wife and I have a place on Otter Lake. We travel the entire chain. And I can tell you, without any hesitation whatsoever, this area is by far the most congested and I'll say dangerous area to travel on the entire chain,” said Jim Rosenthal.

Scotty Rippel believes it will be especially dangerous for non-motorized boats trying to make their way through.

“That's similar to reducing a highway from four lanes to two lanes and adding in more driveways,” he said.

Some people said surveys they did of the channel show more than 7,000 boats going through the channel over the course of 19 days.

At the beginning of the meeting, DNR staff said it has made a “tentative determination that it will issue the permit for the proposed activity”.

People can submit written public comments to the DNR on the project until September 16th.

Any member of the public may submit written comments by emailing nicole.hays@wisconsin.gov or writing to Nicole Hays, 107 Sutliff Ave., Rhinelander, WI 54501 by U.S. mail. Comments should include the docket number (Docket Number IP-NO-2023-64-02012) or applicant name. Comments must be postmarked no later than 10 days

after the date that the public informational hearing is completed in order for them to be considered.

The DNR needs to make a final decision by October 6th.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.