Plan and Review Meeting 12/4/2019

Sunset on Big Spider Lake, December 4, 2019

I attended the Plan and Review Committee and Open Hearing Meeting on Wednesday evening. The two items on the agenda were a proposed change to the camping/RV ordinance and the addition of a new ordinance addressing large special events.

It was great to see such a large turnout. The meeting was started with reading the many emails received by the committee. Then residents were allowed to speak. It was wonderful to see everyone having a chance to express their opinions. I applaud the Plan and Review Committee for all their work and their fair handling of the issues.

The camping ordinance was changed to allow for larger tents and extend the amount of time per year tents are allowed on our properties. It seemed like a good compromise. This will be presented to the Town Board at the December 11, 2019 meeting.

I had an issue with several items in an email sent that made two very false statements. The property owner stated that a property located in an area with no restrictive ordinances had more value than a property located in an area with restrictive ordinances. This is completely untrue. I worked as a Realtor for over 25 years. During that time I sold homes in neighborhoods and rural areas with no restrictive covenants or ordinances, most had them in the past but they expired and were never renewed. I also sold many homes in neighborhoods and rural areas where there were covenants and ordinances that were kept in place and were enforced.

The homes in areas with no restrictive ordinances or covenants sold for less. Driving through them you would see discarded equipment, RVs, boats, covered snowmobiles on trailers, garbage cans visible from the street and every kind of fencing known to man.

The areas with enforced covenants and ordinances would sell for substantially more. The neighborhoods and rural areas were neat, uncluttered and visually much more appealing to buyers. The homes I’m comparing are of like age, style and square footage. I’m sure any Realtor can give you examples of this in the areas they work throughout Wisconsin.

The second statement that I found in my experience to be untrue is that there is a group of people in our town who want to keep people out. We have owned our property here in Spider Lake since 1985. What we have found are people of all socioeconomic status that have been welcoming, helpful and all-around good people.

My husband and I have become involved in our lake association. A group of people who spend an enormous amount of their time and resources to keep our lake free of invasive species and work to educate the property owners about best practices for shoreline restorations and care. I am constantly amazed at their devotion to keeping the area and its lakes something where people want to live and vacation.

The author of the email also referenced the group, Friends of Spider Lake, as a group trying to keep people out of the area. I am familiar with the group and have received emails and mailings from them. What I see is a group that is working to provide information on issues to all the property owners.

Property rights seemed to be an issue and I would ask, when do one person’s rights supersede mine? When we purchased our property we were fully aware of the zoning in Town of Spider Lake. It was part of the reason we purchased it here. We looked at many properties in and around the Hayward area. What we saw on many of the other lakes were properties with sheds, RVs parked near the shore, falling down boathouses, and crowded shorelines. Not at all attractive to us.

Here we found required 200-foot frontages, RVs restricted to areas not visible from the lake, limited time for water and jet skiing on the lake, zoning that prevented the over-development of the properties which in turn protected the quality of the lakes and the values of the properties.

So another question I would ask. Why did you purchase a property in the Town of Spider Lake? Were you not aware of the zoning? As I stated before we looked at properties on other lakes and in other towns. What we saw we didn’t like. But when we spent the day in Spider Lake and drove the roads and went out on the Spider Chain of Lakes we knew we had found what we were looking for. The quiet roads, the uncrowded and unspoiled shorelines. We’ve never regretted the day we bought here. I wouldn’t trade it for any other town or lake.

The Comprehensive Plan put into place in 1967 has served this town well. It has protected the quality of the lakes and the values of our properties. It has created a town that is mentioned in publications as “One of the two jewels of Northern Wisconsin.” The other is La Pointe on Madeline Island. Their ordinances are likewise as restrictive as the Town of Spider Lake.

Just my thoughts. Feel free to disagree.

Your Voice in 2020

There will be four elections in 2020. So many elections and sometimes, not enough time to get to the polls for each and every one of them. We all tend to focus on the National elections and show up at the polls. But we sometimes forget how very important the other elections are. From School Board to President and everything in-between, each of them are of equal importance.

April  7 – Presidential Preference Primary Plus Locals and Judges (FYI – Locals include two open seats on Town of Spider Lake Town Board.)

May 12  – Special Election (CD 7 – Duffy’s old seat)

Aug 11  – Partisan Primary

Nov 3 – General

But did you know you can vote absentee? The process is very simple. Here is a link to the page with all the information you’ll need. http://elections.wi.gov/voters/absentee

If you aren’t registered to vote you will need to do that first. The information for registering is also available at http://elections.wi.gov/voters

Not sure you’re registered? Go to – http://MyVote.WI.Gov and check your status.

So NO excuses. You have a voice, use it. Get out and vote.

Last day of November 2019

Our skiers are waxing their skis and snowmobile enthusiasts are tuning up their sleds

Wow! Nothing like ending a month with a blanket of fresh white snow. Even more than we anticipated.

We were away for Thanksgiving and rushed back home with new tarps to cover the firewood with. OOPS!! A bit too late. We had been so focused on the weather in SE Minnesota we didn’t realize how much snow had fallen here in Spider Lake.

But no complaints from me. Winter’s beauty at times is monochromatic, the black of the tree branches and the white of the snow. Yet when the clouds part and the sun shines it is truly breathtaking. The brilliant blue sky, dark green of the pines, branches topped with mounds of snow make for a picture worthy of any Christmas card.

Winter also brings back my favorite little birds, Chickadees and Nuthatches. Some mornings there are entire flocks at the feeders. All fighting for a spot. Chirping and diving bombing each other. They scatter to the wind when the very large Pileated Woodpecker makes his/her appearance. The suet feeder gets fairly ravaged when it appears. The Blue Jays make short work of any dry bread or peanuts I put out. I’m pretty sure they have a messaging system that lets the flock know about any new treats. They appear en masse.

Winter is such a quiet time. Walking down the road the snow muffles the sound. But I can hear the bird calls much more clearly or the sharp crack of a branch as the deer are moving through the brush. But soon this season will get started with a new set of entertainment. Skiers, snowmobilers and ice fisherpeople will all soon be out on the trails and lakes. FYI,women also like to ice fish. Check out this Wisconsin women’s group here, http:WIWomenFish.com.

I’m always happy to see snow early and deep. It means that the owners of the resorts, restaurants and stores will have a profitable season. Without the snow it makes it hard for them to survive. Our summers are short. It is also great for those of us who live here full-time. It’s much easier to get your friends to visit when the ski trails are open and snowmobile trails are groomed.

The snowmobile trail in front of our house isn’t open yet. It runs across the lake and I’m sure the ice isn’t thick enough yet. We watch for the stakes to go out before we venture out onto the lake. Be sure to check before going out onto the ice. Be safe.

Enjoy the season!

Changing our elected Town Clerk and Treasurer to appointed positions

Can’t vote but you can.

At a recent Town of Spider Lake town meeting our Town Chairman made a motion to have the positions of Town Clerk and Town Treasurer changed to appointed positions and this change placed as a referendum on the ballot of the election coming up this spring.

This is only my opinion and each of us need to make up our minds as to how we will vote on this referendum. But we need all the facts to make an informed decision.

Historically these have been elected positions. It has served our township well. The Clerk and Treasurer run for these positions with their experience and skill sets presented to the voters. Also, they must be residents of the Town of Spider Lake, (TOSL). We have the ability to vote for who we think can fulfill these positions with their loyalty to the TOSL and not to an individual person.

Their positions and the jobs they do have a strict set of rules and regulations overseen by the State of Wisconsin. For myself, I have never doubted their skills or loyalty to the TOSL.

The only information provided to the residents has been an opinion piece written by an appointed town clerk in a Wisconsin town. The piece stated it was the pros and cons of having appointed clerks and treasurers versus elected. It did none of that. It made the case for appointed positions without giving any of the downfalls of changing from elected positions.

These are the questions and concerns I have.

  1. What is the current pay rate that an appointed positions would require? Is that more or less then what we are currently budgeted for?
  2. Would we be required to provide health insurance, vacation pay and holiday pay? What would that cost be?
  3. As appointed/hired employees they are not required to live in the TOSL. They will not be invested in the success of our town.
  4. There will no longer be any oversight on the actions of our Town Board of Supervisors or Chairman. Right now we have people in those two positions who take their jobs seriously and with our treasurer, we have someone who is both experienced and invested in protecting the financial concerns of the taxpayers.
  5. As taxpayers we will no longer have a say as to who holds these very important positions.

Our town is like any other business. We need management at the top who listens to the concerns of his/her fellow elected officials and the residents. If there is a personality clash then it’s time to sit down and find a way to work together for the better of the town. Good managers find a way to create a working team.

No one person has all the skills required to have a successful town. We need a variety of people and their skills brought to the table. Ego needs to take a back seat and our Town Chairman and Board of Supervisors should be exhibiting a willingness to work together.

I will be voting no on this referendum. I want my vote to count. I want the right to select, through elections, our Town Clerk and Town Treasurer.

Glad to be home

My husband, Bill and I took a 12 day trip to Vietnam. It was a trip Bill has wanted to make for quite a while. He had a cousin, who he was very close to, that served and died in Vietnam during the conflict.

Wally was like an older brother growing up in South Minneapolis. He was the one who bought Bill his first pair of hockey skates and taught him how to skate.

I was at first reluctant to go but the more I read about Vietnam the more interested I became. So with a bit of planning, off we went.

The people of Vietnam were friendly and smile readily. Always willing to answer your questions but language was a bit of a barrier. Most spoke some English but not always fluently. We knew very few phrases or words. The upside was that all signage and menus were in English.

There is beauty there but sometimes hard to see because of the debris that fills the streets and waterways. We stayed at a resort on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City the last 5 days that was on the Saigon River. Looking at it from a distance was fine but up close the amount of garbage floating in the water was unbelievable.

Where the streets were once filled with bicycles they are now filled with small motor scooters. The exhaust makes your eyes burn. Combine that with temps of 80+ degrees and humidity levels that exceeded 90% some days, made for some very slow walking.

While there I came to appreciate where I live even more. The clean waters of the lakes, streams, and rivers. The majestic forests. The fresh air and the blessed quiet. I tried to describe it to one of our guides and he just shook his head in disbelief.

There I saw rampant overdevelopment, no visible zoning restrictions and little to no mass transit, although to be fair they are working on it.

As a friend, who’s well traveled told me, “We’ve traveled all over the world and what we’ve seen just firmed up our commitment to preserve and protect our place in the world, Town of Spider Lake.”

There’s a reason we have what we have here in Spider Lake. It’s our Comprehensive Plan that was created in 1967 and has been updated regularly by people who live here and love this area. People who recognize the value of having zoning that puts the brakes on over development. Our zoning not only protects the natural resources of our area it also protects our property values both on and off the lakes.

1985

Our view today

I still remember the moment we pulled into what would soon become our home away from home. We arrived in Hayward, after leaving Rochester, Minnesota at 5:00 A.M. in a VW van with 4 adults and 3 small children, a little blurry-eyed but ready to start our adventure.

We found a nice cafe and loaded the kids and ourselves up with carbs and fat, aka pancakes and bacon, and lots of caffeine for the adults. And the search for a spot on a lake began.

We spent the next 5 hours with a local Realtor, who shall remain unnamed. We had talked with him several weeks earlier and outlined what we were looking for. Despite that, he proceeded to show us properties that were the exact opposite. At the end of the tour he turned and said, “Well, that’s it. You can keep looking on your own. If you find something, give me a call.” My thought was, “Don’t hold your breath.”

Back to Hayward, we went looking to salvage the trip in any way possible. We picked up a local paper and went through the ads. One ad caught our eye. We called the Realtor who was with a client but she gave us directions and permission to look at the property.

I fell asleep on the drive, it had been a long day and woke to two guys laughing loudly. Crawled out of the van and asked, “What’s so funny?” My husband pointed to the building and said, “Look. It’s a bunker.” And that’s exactly what it looked like, a concrete block bunker with a flat roof.

But the moment we knew this was it was when we walked up and stood on that flat roof and looked out onto the lake. What a view. It was a beautiful late spring day, the sun was shining, the lake reflected the blue sky and it was so quiet. A little piece of heaven.

For 27 years we shared with another family and gathered up many wonderful memories of kids learning to swim and water-ski, board games, late-night bonfires, thousands of books read, fishing off the dock and so much laughter. With their purchase of another lake home closer to their home we dissolved our joint ownership. We couldn’t say goodbye to this so it still is our little piece of heaven. 35 years and counting.

What are your thoughts on allowing ATV/UTVs on all Town of Spider Lake Roads?

Photo by Good Free Photos.com on Pexels.com

Soon all property owners in Town of Spider Lake will be receiving a survey about the proposed change of ATV/UTV use on all town roads.

If, like me, your first thought is, “What’s the harm?” I will tell you that what I’ve learned by doing a little research online has answered that question and the answer is, quite a bit of harm.

I will be posting links to various articles and studies in the near future. But here briefly are some of my findings.

  1. Safety. The number of deaths and serious injuries from the use of ATV/UTVs is on the rise. More and more of the deaths are occurring on paved roads. Manufacturers have stated that they are unsafe on paved roads for several reasons, high center of gravity and the tires are meant for trails, not pavement. Alcohol has been a contributing factor in many of the deaths. As has the lack of helmets and not using seatbelts. We also need to remember who else is using the town roads. Landscaping trucks hauling trailers of equipment, construction vehicles, large delivery trucks, and vehicles hauling boats. Our town roads are narrow with very limited shoulders, many curves and often deep ditches on the side. Those vehicles would have a hard time avoiding ATV/UTVs if they came up behind them on a curve.
  2. Noise. More often than not when out on ATV/UTVs people are traveling in groups. This can create quite a bit of noise. By allowing them on all town roads this has the potential of being a real nuisance if you live on a quiet road here in our town.
  3. Road maintenance expense. Many areas that reversed their zoning and allowed the use of town roads for ATV/UTVs have seen an increase in road expense that has caused an increase in their taxes. Shoulders of the roads were torn up, the pavement on the edges of the roads was broken down and had to be repeatedly repaired. All of these costs were passed onto the town taxpayers while those using the roads were more often than not visitors to the area with no financial stake in the community.

These are the three major issues I have discovered. Sawyer County has beautiful trails that are becoming very popular and are bringing more visitors to the area. I’ve come to believe that the trails are the safest place for riding. After all, that is what the machines were designed for, trails.

Tell me your thoughts.

Here is a link with information about the trails available in our area.

http://Haywardlakes.com/atv/

Fall arrives clothed in golden splendor

Upper A Road in Town of Spider Lake

Since 1985 I’ve had the blessing of experiencing the beauty of the Spider Chain of Lakes located in the Town of Spider Lake outside Hayward Wisconsin.

Winter can seem to last an eternity, Spring can’t seem to ever make up her mind, Summer is always too short and then Fall arrives. The summer residents have all gone home and the lakes get quiet during the week. A few fisherpeople during the week can be seen working their way around the lake searching for the elusive Muskies and an occasional pontoon boat cruises by. But the serenity of the lakes has returned.

Early morning brings a mist hovering over the water as the lake begins to cool off. The loons haven’t left yet so their calls are still echoing out of the mists. Migrating birds begin to appear at the feeders and the constant honking of the Canadian Geese is a reminder that winter is on it’s way.

I’ve started this site for several reasons. I love this place and it seems that of late it has come under attack. There are those who feel that this town should “modernize.” That we should do away with long standing traditions and protections that make this area what is valued by so many. The clean waters, quiet roads to walk along, shorelines absent of the clutter seen on so many other lakes, zoning that prevents over development.

I want this site to be where like minded people can come together and fight to preserve what we hold dear. A place where all can express their opinions without fear of being censored. A place where there is respect for one another’s opinions. I will delete any postings that are not in this spirit.

I’ve heard it said, “But on Lake (insert name here) you can water and jet ski all day long.” Or “You can build on 100 foot frontages.” and “You can drive your ATV/UTVs on any town road.”

The Town of Spider Lake is one of just two towns in the state of Wisconsin with more restrictive zoning that was put in place in 1967. To those familiar with lake development and environmental concerns we are living in what is considered “a jewel.” Those restrictions have kept over development at bay. Because of that our property values continue to be stable and these lakes are some of the most desirable to live on.

While we have multiple “Quiet Lakes” we also have the Spider Chain of Lakes that does allow water and jet skiing for 4 hours every day. Sunrise brings out the fishing boats, swimmers, kayaks and paddle boards. At 11:00 A.M. the ski boats and jet skis are zooming around the lake. The screams of delight as kids are propelled around the lake on a tube and the tumbles and falls as they are learning how to water ski are part of the summer symphony. At 3:00 P.M. the quiet returns. Soon you see kayaks, sailboats and paddle boards back out on the lake. It’s a wonderful compromise. One of the reasons we chose to buy our piece of heaven on the lake.

We are now facing a vote on the use of UTV/ATVs on the township roads. Many of these roads wind their way through forest and have no shoulders and in many areas have deep ditches to the side of the road. They have traffic that would have a hard time stopping or slowing for the UTV/ATVs. These are delivery trucks, log trucks, landscaping trucks, vehicles hauling boats and trailers. I will be attaching statistics about the accidents, injuries and deaths in areas that allow them on township roads as they become available.

Another zoning issue that has come into discussion is the change in the Recreational Vehicle ordinance. There are those that want recreational vehicles allowed on properties located in the Town of Spider Lake. We currently have the most restrictive ordinance in Sawyer County.

With each of the issues and any others that arise I will be posting links that will allow everyone to voice opinions, provide information about the pros and cons of the issues. My hope is that all of our voices can be heard.