The Grundy County Planning Commission had a full house Tuesday, but the audience was split between those protesting a proposed campground in Goose Lake Township and those in favor of it.
John Russ Jr. is the owner of 44 acres zoned industrial off the Kankakee River in Grundy County. He is requesting 11 acres be rezoned agricultural and that a special use permit be issued for a 29-lot campground. The remaining acres would continue to be farmed.
The Planning Commission recommended the requests, which will go before the Land Use Committee at 4:30 p.m. today, Wednesday, March 27. If Land Use approves the requests, they will go before the full Grundy County Board to be placed on file in April and could be up for a vote in May.
The campground is planned to have a boat launch and dock, a caretaker on the property at all times, and to be open from May 1 to Oct. 28. Quiet hours would be in effect from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. It will have no outside toilet facilities, but it will have a station to empty the RVs’ facilities.
A portion of the property is in a floodplain, but the issue has been addressed with the Army Corps of Engineers. The caretaker will monitor rain and river measurements and have the RVs moved if its in danger of flooding, said Russ.
Russ told the commission that the property is too beautiful to be used for industrial use and that he wanted to open up some of the property to people who could not afford to live on the water, but could spend some time on it in the summer.
“We’re trying to establish something the community can use,” he said.
Four people from the public spoke against the project, citing concerns of increased noise, boat traffic, pollution and that the campground would resemble a trailer park, bringing down their property values. Many of the audience members live in Wild Feather Subdivision in Wilmington.
“From our location, we can hear the activity from the river . . . we know for a fact if this goes through we’re going to hear more and more noise,” said Kevin Willis of Teal Drive.
Another Wilmington resident expressed concern on what type of people would utilize the campground. He said it could be vacationers who do not care about the area or possible temporary residents who move there while working at Dresden Station during outages, and even suggested people should be concerned if terrorists stayed there to be close to the nuclear plant.
“(The campground) is going to be disruptive to current tax-paying residents,” he said.
Another Mallard Lane resident said the river already has too much activity and adding another private boat launch could be dangerous.
That resident noted private launches are not monitored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources like the public ones are.
On request, one of the speakers asked for audience members to raise their hands if they were against the campground. About half did. Later, Russ asked for the supporters to raise their hands and the other half did. There were about 70 people at the meeting.
Russ spoke again, pointing out that there are 42 private boat launches along the river, all of which are not monitored by the DNR. At the campground, there will be a full-time caretaker to monitor the private launch, he said, even if it requires two to cover shifts.
“It’s rented seasonally, and at the end of the season, there will be no campers on site,” said Russ. “We intend this to be beneficial,” he continued.
The commission’s favorable recommendation is with a list of conditions required for the campground, as well as pending the Environmental Health Director and the IDNR resolving an issue they have, said Vice Chairman Michael Breisch, who ran the meeting.