7 Investigates: Citing environmental concerns, DNR delays proposed Camp Phillips Centre project

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WESTON, Wis. (WSAW) – Citing environmental concerns, Department of Natural Resources wetland staff have delayed development of the long planned Weston retail and residential project, known as the Camp Phillips Centre.

“Your project is being placed on hold until the above reference information is received,” DNR Wetland Exemption Team member Kyle McLaughlin wrote in a letter dated Dec. 4, 2018 to Camp Phillips Centre developer Dennis Steinkraus.

The proposed 140-acre retail, office, residential and industrial development would be located south of Highway 29 and East of Camp Phillips Road.

However, some of the project will require construction on wetlands. Those natural bodies of water are known for supporting fish and wildlife habitats, protecting against flooding and improving water quality.

In Weston's case, developers and village leaders want those in charge of granting permits at the DNR and Army Corps of Engineers to exempt 26.2 acres of wetlands, arguing they were artificially created by the County Highway X/State Highway 29 intersection.

"Kind of creating a dam effect there. And we believe supporting the human created wetland issue there,” Interim Village of Weston Administrator Keith Donner explained.

But the permit would mean meeting certain criteria, which the DNR is currently studying.

"If there was a land disturbance on the property that created these wetlands that were not historically there. The other one is what sort of evidence is there that wetlands were not there before,” DNR Waterway and Wetland Field Supervisor Keith Patrick told 7 Investigates.

In the two page letter, McLaughlin requests detailed descriptions of specific human modifications that caused each wetland to form.

“Be sure to detail the specific hydrologic or biological processes that resulted from the human modification that are presumed to have led to the formation of each individual wetland in question,” McLaughlin added.

As of Dec. 13, the DNR’s Patrick and Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Shannon Bauer told 7 Investigates they had not received the requested information.

Once the DNR receives the information, state law dictates they must make a decision within four business days.