Burnett County Circuit Court Judge Melissia Mogen has issued a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against Wood Lake Camp and Retreat, LLC. The ruling halts all construction activities until the case is resolved at trial.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, Concerned Citizens of Big Wood Lake (CCoBWL) argued earlier this year in court that the camp had lost their right to their conditional use permit.
Attorney Joseph Cincotta said the camp’s conditional use permit has expired because the camp has not been used as a youth bible camp for over 12 months.
“We expected a ruling on our request for a temporary restraining order on December 6th, so this is a welcome surprise,” said Patrick Hansen, chair of CCoBWL. “The new owners seem determined to build an RV park and resort, even though the only use that has ever been permitted for the 234-acre property is a youth Bible camp. I’m relieved that the Court has acted more quickly than expected.”
Big Wood Lake Camp & RV LLC is operated by Patrick and Judi Kinsella. They bought 234 acres of land in Wood River and Trade Lake towards the end of 2018. They originally submitted a pair of consecutive conditional use permits (CUP) that laid out the campground first as a resort with a large expansion of RV sites and the second CUP proposed a similar plan but a scaled-back version.
In March that CUP was tabled by the Burnett County Land Use and Information Committee because they did not have enough time or resources to decide on the camp/resort at 22460 Assembly Drive in the town of Wood River.
Mogen also ordered the plaintiff to post a cash bond of $2,500 that was paid by a representative later in the week.
The decision states, “This matter could take some time to resolve. Defendants could lose construction time. Prices could increase. It is difficult to estimate what the damages could be.”
CCoBWL, an unincorporated association of over 150 local residents and property owners, was found to not have standing in the case even though its individual members do. The association has identified other individual CCoBWL members who are affected and are interested in joining Plaintiff Matt Jensen as fellow plaintiffs as the case goes forward. Joint legal counsel for CCoBWL and Mr. Jensen will pursue adding members as the Court directs over the next few weeks.
Reflecting on the lawsuit, Mr. Jensen commented, “I’m thankful for the entire Concerned Citizens group, The Big Wood Lake Association, and the community who care and understand how critical the outcome of this case is for all our lakes in Northern Wisconsin. Rules exist to preserve and protect public lands and waters that all people, locals and visitors, are welcomed to enjoy at Big Wood Lake. Our community deserves to see that those rules are followed.”