New Michigan Ski Area Stalled by Local Politics

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Keweenaw Peninsula, MI, May 1--The proposed Mt. Bohemia ski area in Michigan's upper peninsula has been stalled, at least for the time being, by local controversy.

While some residents of the state's northernmost county welcome the idea, others have loudly contended that the region does not need a ski area and the problems it might bring. The developers of the project, Crosswinds Communities of Novi (near Detroit), claim Mt. Bohemia would add 65 jobs and $300,000 in tax value to Michigan's most sparsely populated county.

The first phase of the project, slated to be ready for next ski season, would include a base lodge and 10 runs and 2 lifts on a 950-foot vertical mountain, the highest vertical drop in the state. Later, 50 log cabins on the site would bring the total investment to $6 million.

In a public meeting last month, opposition was raised on several fronts. Opponents argued that Mt. Bohemia's remote location would be a drawback, and that previous attempts to develop the site have failed. Finally, some residents raised concerns about erosion and environmental damage at the site. The Keweenaw County Commission's vote seemed to reflect the local division. They approved a zoning change that would allow the hill to be used for ski area purposes. On a more important issue, however, the board voted not to apply for a $907,000 state grant that would have paid for a lagoon-type wastewater system and several wells for the project.

The rejection of the grant proposal could scuttle plans for Mt.Bohemia, as it would mean a much larger investment on the part of Crosswinds. In a statement to SkiNet, Lonnie Glieberman, point man for Crosswinds Communities on the Mt. Bohemia project, expessed disappointment that the development is now in jeopardy.

"We're in a period of evaluation, trying to decide what to do next," said Glieberman." We still believe in the potential of Mt. Bohemia and the Keweenaw Peninsula, but our decision is going to boil down to simple economics." A decision on whether or not to proceed with Mt. Bohemia will be finalized by Crosswinds in May.