Westport Plan Commission votes against haunted house

Vote recommends not to rezone Scaryland area
Westport Plan Commission votes against haunted house

A haunted house scheduled to open in late September outside the town of Westport might not make it to Halloween season, if a town board gets its way.

Scaryland is a haunted house with a storyline based in part on a hospital for wounded veterans, and some area residents have voiced their opposition to the idea.

Westport’s Plan Commission, along with its joint Waunakee Plan Commission, took steps to finish off the haunt. Westport’s board voted to recommend against zoning for the house, while the joint commission declined to make a recommendation.

Among issues including increased traffic and incompatibility with town goals, some commission members took issue with the vet hospital storyline.

“My nephew has served three tours in Iraq, and I do take offense to this being labeled as a veteran’s hospital that has gone crazy,” said member Mark Trotter.

Other members disagreed and argued the thought of filling a long-vacant lot takes priority over a poor storyline.

“I am a disabled veteran, and I have no problem with this temporary use, and I don’t think it’s a disgrace at all,” said member Brad Robinson. “I would much rather see that eyesore cleaned up than left the way it was.”

But for some commission members, the thought of opening a haunted house based on injured vets was nothing but a nightmare.

“‘Closed in 1968 from government officials due to a disturbing mass suicide, the hospital sat vacant for more than 40 years until reopening as a tourist attraction in 2014 as Wisconsin Scaryland,'” said Trotter, reading from the house’s website. “This is not Westport.”

Although commission members ultimately shot down a rezoning recommendation, the haunt hasn’t died yet. The Westport Town Board will also make a recommendation, which will ultimately be considered by the Waunakee Town Board, which technically has jurisdiction over the piece of land. Those members will have the final say at their Sept. 15 meeting.