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Village Moves Forward on Proposed Walmart; Opponents Attend Meeting

Village President Ron Coutts supports the plan, but residents are opposed to building the store next to a nature reserve.

Caledonia officials took their first step Tuesday night to determine whether a Walmart is a good fit for the village. 

Village Board and the Plan Commission members held a joint meeting where they heard a presentation from a developer regarding a proposed Walmart at Highway 31 and 4 Mile Road.

Dozens of people attended the presentation by the developer, many opposed to the idea of the big-box retailer moving into the village.  

Libby Cameron, a Caledonia since 1980, described the mood during the presentation as "angry and tense." 

"To have it in a residential area next to a nature preserve is unconscionable," Cameron said. "I think our green space is asset not a liability."

After the meeting and a regularly scheduled Village Board meeting, Village Board President Ron Coutts said the the decision-making process is at its infancy. 

Wal-Mart representatives will hold another presentation for residents on March 28. Coutts will then call a meeting with the Plan Commission and Village Board to discuss the municipality's options as it pertains to Walmart.  

"The sad part is, if we lose this and the citizens push them out the door, that sends a message to all developers not to come to Caledonia anymore," he said. 

The 115,000-square-foot store would be smaller than the typical Walmart. The new store would be at least the 17th Walmart in southeastern Wisconsin, including the second in Racine County. 

Rick Zinda March 02, 2011 at 11:48 AM
As I eluded to in my other post; Caledonia needs a way for our unemployed to make money not spend it. Wal-mat brings cheap products, low pay, crime, congestion and yes SOME jobs but who can buy a house on minimum wage. Manufacturing brings higher pay, more stability, personal pride, useful skills...you get the idea. And as for Cotts' comment about scaring away others; that's just not true unless he makes it that way. Most if not all companies know Wally World is not liked and our not wanting yet another one shows no reflection to how we may regard another company (has it affected other counties that way, no). You work for US Mr. Coots, please listen to our wishes for a once.
Greta Mueller March 02, 2011 at 01:23 PM
Rick - that's Coutts - and the village has been listening to folks like you for years - that's why we're in the financial mess we're in. You expect us to believe you'd accept a manufacturing plant in that area - HUH! Let's take the corner of Tabor and 31 as an example where there have been proposals for a bakery/deli, dance studio, restaurant, ALL turned away because the sensitivities of the residents in that area would be offended - what? I still don't understand. Bring any of those developments onto my corner and I'd help them break ground.
Heather in Caledonia March 02, 2011 at 02:07 PM
I support this development, but I can understand making some specifications. Directed and lower parking lot lighting, nice outside architecture (doesn't need to look like a warehouse), etc. I'm sure some of these things would not cause a problem. I've heard that this would be a smaller store than most - I'd be interested in hearing what types of goods it would carry. As for being in that location, I think that's fine. Yes, there are nature preserves there, but that will ensure that this development doesn't "spill over." I'm torn in many ways about development - part of me loves to see open land and wooded areas as I drive around town. Caledonia is a beautiful village. However, we do need development to be able to continue to live here. Just because it's a Wal-Mart doesn't mean it would bring crime and disease. We can ask that it be done well (that one in Somers is awful!), but still allow for it to go through.
Sandy March 02, 2011 at 02:38 PM
- The Caledonia Land Use Plan is clear this area is zoned residential (if residents can't change that, then why should we let the board change it to get what they want?) - Taxes will go up because the police force will have to be increased to patrol the Walmart area. No matter how nice the architecture is. - A parking lot lit up all night and visible for miles. - Trash blowing from the parking lot. - Delivery trucks 24 hours a day. - Hundreds of cars coming and going every day with increased traffic down 4 Mile road of trucks and cars. This road is a thoroughfare for our tractors and hay wagons. - Parking lot water runoff and trash running into and polluting the trout ponds and Root River conservation area just south of 4 mile. -Underutilized Kmart at 4 mi and Douglas would likely close, leaving an abandoned property sure to become an eyesore and tax vacuum. - negative effects on the butcher shop at 31 and 6 mile, and the pet food store on Douglas north of 4 mile, and our historic Nelson's - negative effects on our conservancy and horse trails Why do we want them to come in and destroy all that? Our taxes will go up anyway, they always do. We need to prevent a zoning change or variance from being permitted. If that does not work, then we need a referendum precluding the development itself. Let the Caledonia residents decide. If that doesn't work, vote these people who don't want to listen to Caledonia residents out of office!!!
wisconsincitizen March 02, 2011 at 03:00 PM
I have many reasons why I believe a Wal-Mart ANYWHERE in Caledonia is a bad idea. Wal-mart does not maintain their properties. They are dirty inside and out. I am afraid if Wal-Mart comes in more lower end businesses will come in adding to the detioration of the area. Wal-Mart markets to a select segment of the population. Most of those individuals do not live on the North side. Their business tactics of going into an area and undercutting local businesses to drive them out and then raise prices is well known. And for all those people up in arms over the Budget Repair Bill they are the biggest Union Busting company in the country!
Scott Yohn March 02, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Scotty I support Ron Counts a 100% we can't keep telling developers we don't want them or need them they will disappeer. I also agree that Caledonia is a awesome place to live. Its just not right that every time some one is interested in our community we have a few that think we don't need them. I believe the most of us see the people upset and that makes us think we should not side against themand i'm one.This time I think we all need to let Calidonia know what we think on this issue.
JW March 02, 2011 at 03:39 PM
I understand the concerns of those who like Caledonia more wide open and rural, but... that does not mean everyone else agrees with it. It is one of the closer areas to Milwaukee that has much room for development. I hope we get more services than what we have right now. We have fast food but are limited by restaurants that are either fast food or locally owned establishments. On our end of town all we have is Charcoal Grill for the above fast food chains. We need more of those type of options. I support more retail because it will eventually lead to more restaurants and services as well. Maybe someday we can get our own Red Lobster or Texas Roadhouse so that we do not have to drive a half an hour to get to one. I would certainly prefer a Target to a Walmart, but having something other than KMart on our side of town would certainly be helpful. I dont love the proposed location for this Walmart because the spot is limited in terms of expansion. I'd rather see a shopping area designated where more shops, banks, restaurants, etc can also pop up in the same location. The HWY 31 and 4 mile road area really only has one corner that can reasonably be developed. In any event, Caledonia is big enough to retain some open spaces, have a high school, and more shopping areas as well. Those who like to preserve open spaces are going to be in for some rough decades. The time is now to start planning for and using available areas to earmark them for Caledonia's evolution.
JW March 02, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Obviously a meeting like this one will attract the opponents... those who like the idea or have no real problem with it are far more unlikely to show up just to show support. It would be nice if the village actually polled the residents to see what they think overall... I know that is what voting is for... but why do things always have to be so formal. Formal voting... formal meeting... it might be nice to have some way to interact better... how about a poll at a city website that accepts one vote per account registered. It would be interesting to see what the majority of people think. I would think the majority would be ok with the idea, but it would be nice to know for sure... all I know is a village meeting is never going to give an accurate picture because it will always draw a higher percentage of those opposed.
Rick Zinda March 02, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Hello Greta, Thanks for pointing out Coutts spelling. I didn't mean to imply I want them to build there exactly, just that we don't need more shopping, in these times we need jobs. While any business makes jobs Wal-mart is not the kind that can support a family like a factory or the like. Plus, don't we have enough of them; I searched and found there are 20 Wal-marts with in 33 miles and 5 with in 11.5 miles of 53108.
Greta Mueller March 02, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Sandy - the Land Use Plan is just that...a Plan! It's not set in stone, it's not the bible, it's not the Constitution, it shouldn't have it's own cult following (though it seems to in Caledonia)...it's a Plan...a zoning tool for our elected officials to use as Caledonia moves forward to guide them in their decisions. Have you ever heard of a plan that never had any changes or adjustments? As well, when the Caledonia Land Use Plan was adopted, the Village Board specified they would revisit the Plan every couple years to make adjustments and "tweaks" as necessary because they realized the "Plan" was not perfect and circumstances would present themselves that might precipitate altering the "Plan." I do appreciate, however, your other points and, IMHO, some of them certainly need to be addressed by both the developer and our officials as this development proposal makes it way through the process. Remember this is going to be a Planned Unit Development - the number of steps in the process written into Caledonia ordinances for a PUD are almost ridiculous there's so numerous. One roadblock at any step in the process and Walmart will probably move on to greener pastures. Remember this is business - they want to be successful. They're not going to move to a community just to torture a small group of people - they want the support of the community so their business will thrive. If they can't get it, they'll take their proposal somewhere where they can.
mike March 02, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Good Afternoon, At this point of time, how can our elected officials be anything other than neutral on a this proposal? It apprears this is a new proposal, but judging by Mr. Coutts' quote, he is in favor. The residents should decide the fate of a development as sweeping as this. The total effect on the community needs to be considered. Studies considering impact on traffic patterns, roads, enviornment, wildlife, police coverage, fire protection, etc. need to be done, and shared with the community. These studies should be funded by the proposed developer, but done by independant consultants, of our choosing. I live one mile from the proposed location, we moved here because of the rural setting. We own cars and have no problem driving 10 minutes to the intersection of Hwy. 20 and 31 where we can buy anything we need. I am not opposed to development, but a Walmart will draw thousands of customers. That is what they do, they are the best at it. The homes across the street will be devalued due to the traffic or become so valuable due to the traffic in the area, that land will be developed into further retail. We all have different tastes, but a Red Lobster is not my idea of a neighborhood improvement. Mike of Caledonia, not Couttsadonia
shell March 02, 2011 at 06:53 PM
I think this would be good for caledonia. i for one like walmart. it does have reasonable pricing. and would add to the competition. but would bring more jobs which this county. really needs. we need more choices on the north side. everything is on the south side. so ppl either go there or mainly caledonians shop Milw. area. so why should another county get our ppls money. I vote yes bring Walmart to Caledonia.
shell March 02, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Well said. I agree. i do like walmart. but the oppurtunity for more business is the best way to develope this town. with more options so ppl can shop closer to home rather than driving 15 mins to the other side of town to shop. and there are no choices for fast food. just Mcdonalds that closes early. best thing here so far is Walgreens.
JW March 02, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Red Lobster and Texas Roadhouse are just examples, obviously tastes will vary. If I could afford to eat at Sebastians on a weekly basis, I would... but I can't. We go there for special occaisons. Right now, for a good midstyle meal (not fast food and not something more upscale and therefore more pricey) there is Douglas Ave Diner and Charcoal Grill and that is about it (except for a bunch of places that aren't all that good, ahm, Derangos) or you have to drive 10 minutes north to Oak Creek or 10 minutes south into Racine. The Caledonia area surely is growing in population to support more than we have available to us. I know there is a new Diner that just opened where Leonardos used to be, but I havent gone there yet, though I certainly plan to. There simply arent enough options in our area outside of fast food.
Sandy March 03, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Greta - I certainly do understand that the Land Use Plan is a plan and should be able to be changed...my reason for including that in the discussion is that many residents have found they cannot persuade the board to budge on any plan where they need the plan changed but yet when the board wants something they can miraculously find a way to change it. It is a plan when the board wants it to be but a suggestion when they need it to change. I do like alot of the areas that are set aside as rural and would like it to stay that way but to make people not be able to cut of a couple of their acres to sell so someone can build a house is ludicrous. Wal-Mart is just a big name with fancy lights to mesmerize the board. I hope they wake up before it's too late and then everyone starts to move out of the area.
Thomas Spieker March 03, 2011 at 07:20 AM
Do You want four Mile Road to look like Hwy 11 Soon?
JW March 03, 2011 at 08:57 AM
As Caledonia grows in numbers of residents, do you not believe there will eventually be several more shopping centers or even a general shopping area like every other city? Bluemound Road in Brookfield was not always as it is now, and the same for many places in other areas around Milwaukee as Milwaukee expanded. Like it or not, it is coming. There is a void between Milwaukee and Racine and Kenosha in services. Even Oak Creek has slowly been expanding more services in the last 10 years with a Target and a Kohls, etc... but it is not normal for so many services to be 10 miles away from the growing population in Caledonia. We deserve closer services and as population grows, so will the services, it is just how things go. Just because some have enjoyed what Caledonia has been most of their lives or lived all their lives here doesnt mean Caledonia should not evolve to meet the needs of everyone else. Living here longer does not give anyone more rights than those who chose to move to or build in Caledonia (among all the options of areas around Milwaukee) in more recent times. If you dont want it to be 4 mile road, fine... but then lets look at areas of 5 mile or 6 mile or along 31 or 32. Somewhere around all those areas eventually something new is going to crop up because the growing population will support it. I dont love the proposed location because I think it is limiting. Just as some land will become subdivisions... some others will eventually become retail.
Erin March 03, 2011 at 05:14 PM
JW - why do you live here if you annoyed by driving 10 miles to get to a chain restaurant? I live here to be AWAY from those things. I live here to enjoy lighter traffic, low light pollution, access to retail centers miles away, outdoor space for biking, hiking, etc. Where do we (like minded rural Caledonia residents) move to, when if all spaces are prime for development so people like yourself can have a Red Lobster nearby? Development should be contained. It shouldn't be a free for all. Once we lose land, it's gone FOREVER. That empty BestBuy on 32 will never become open land again, even though a business failed. The failing storefronts along Douglas will never turn into green space again. The subdivisions that have more homes for sale than occupied, will never turn back into a century old farm that it once was. It can't be replaced. A box store can. And for what purpose are we giving up this open land? For $10 an hour jobs, more traffic, a change in taxes (eaten up by more police, fire, infrastructure costs). Build it where it FITS, where the land is already lost.
JW March 03, 2011 at 05:30 PM
I moved here for a variety of reasons. I didn't know there were many people living here who want the place to remain countryside as much as possible and will fight advancement and development. Fighting Walmart specifically, I sort of understand because I think Walmart is relatively trashy. Fighting development overall does not make sense to me. I moved to the Milwaukee area from a midstate rural location in the 90s. I lived in the actual City of Milwaukee for 8 years. I saved up to have a house built and when I was ready I looked around. Caledonia stood out really nicely. It is a nice commute into Milwaukee. It is positioned well for even a potential commute to northern IL. I prefered to be out of Milwaukee County to get to a lesser tax rate and lower lot prices. Compared to Muskego/Mukwonago, Sussex, Waukesha, Hartford, or Saukville, Caledonia was outside of Milwaukee County but gave reasonable access to the job bases of both Milwaukee and Chicago in the event I was ever between jobs. It made sense all around. I also like that Caledonia has more room to grow rather than most of the others communities which have already done more growing. I found it to be the best location within 30 minutes from downtown Milwaukee when all criteria were factored in. To think that Caledonia will not change pretty significantly in the next 20 years is a bit ridiculous. What Caledonia has is the ability to do is shape that development, not stop it.
JW March 03, 2011 at 05:39 PM
It is not that I am annoyed to have to drive 10 minutes, it is that I am excited and ready for the growth of more options that I think the area already supports. We eat fast food more than we would want to sometimes because they are the close/convenient options compared to a farther drive. Many of the businesses that fail are failing due to the current economy and not having a very good business. The businesses that inspire repeat business with their solid products and customer service vs pricing in providing a product or service that is in demand seem to do fine. I frequent the local businesses I like, and I avoid the ones I don't. Unfortunately the list of area restaurants I have tried and disliked are larger than the ones I like. The reason I would like some more mid level chain restaurants is for the very reason many of them are successful. I know exactly what I will be getting there and there are some efficiencies in chains that help keep their prices reasonable too. I love Douglas Ave Diner and think it is as outstanding as local restaurant of its style can be but I can't eat there every day. As for homes for sale, that is a problem everywhere from a bad economy, bad lending practicies, and in some cases people biting off more than they could chew. Businesses failing or homes for sale do not define Caledonia. Caledonia is an exciting area because there is room for evolution. No one is saying we want to destroy all green space or anything that radical.
ada March 04, 2011 at 08:01 PM
Im one of the resident that would be effected by walmart coming. There is plenty of vacant commrical property that could be used and im upset that it has to be in a residential area. The commentors that disagree i wonder how you would feel if it went across from your house! The fact is that if we let the Village board start making residental properties commerial as they please no Caledonia tax payer is safe. Not to mention 4 mile rd cant be made any bigger unless a majority of the houses where torn down,come on people this isnt a solution. Has are society come so lazy that they cant drive 5 miles to the other walmart. The crime that comes with a walmart should scare the crap out of you people, not to mention its not in the budget for more officers. The problem started because are elected officials cant manage our taxpayers money and now are trying to scrabble for a solution, well if this is the best they have then im dissappointed Why not build in the open space by the interstate? cape cod has 60 acres for sale that is already zoned commerical. All im saying is why tear down peoples houses and put other residents in the areas houses be put through this. I know that other people may not respect my opinion but ask yourself, honestly would you want a walmart parking lot next to your property to look at every single minute of the day. Also the commentors who think we will get a tax break your blind because with the joint dispatch deal are taxes will go up for 10yrs
Laurie March 05, 2011 at 01:28 AM
I do not live close by 31 and 4 mile but I do empathize with those who do. When one hears of prospective development their first impulse is often, "yippee for ME", but then when you ponder about it more, you think about the potential negative impact on your neighbors, especially those who have been residing(in an area zoned "residential") there for more years than yourself, and furthermore, the potentially negative impact on OUR overall community in the long term. We then reassure ourselves that our village board is comprised of thoughtful and quality minded people who will respect the mission and purpose of the land use plan and adhere to it. If that is so, then a Walmart will not be built on the 31 and 4 mile.
JW March 05, 2011 at 05:42 AM
Honestly, 4 mile and 31 is simply not a good location for a big retail development. I totally agree with those who believe that. I just do not agree with those who take it to the next level and want to fight pretty much all development in Caledonia or call people lazy or what not because we would prefer to have more retail on our side of Racine. I still think that 6 mile intersection area where 31 and 32 join looks nice for a retail center if a new business payed to relocate the church and the Brass Rail and used that corner instead. It may seem pretty far north but as Caledonia continues to grow it likely would turn into a great location for retail along the growing 32 corredor. No matter where some new shopping center or even a new school goes in Caledonia it will end up next to someone's house. Doesnt mean I do not feel for those people, but if that does happen, its not the end of the world or anything. They can choose to live by it or move somewhere. The one thing about a community with room to grow... things will pop up eventually and you cant simply rule out every single spot because someone lives next to it.
Angelene March 05, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Would love to have a Walmart. Not only would it benefit the teenagers & college students who need work, but it will also save on my pocketbook! Caledonia needs businesses to help with the tax base here. Plain & simple, not everyone owns a horse or wants one. We have to do for all of the Community members, not just a small group.
patchreader 123 March 26, 2011 at 07:00 PM
please review www.ccrep.org
Heather in Caledonia March 27, 2011 at 01:07 AM
Patchreader 123, I checked out the site and it says on there that the meeting is at 6:00. I've heard it was at 7:00. Anyone know for sure?
patchreader 123 March 27, 2011 at 02:16 AM
The Caledonia meeting Joint Village Board meeting minutes (from the 1st Walmart mtg on 03/01/11 ) say 6:00 pm. Patch writers are saying 7 pm. However, until something is published in writing by the village board saying otherwise, I'm sticking with 6:00 pm. See below mtg minutes from Caledonia's web site (page 2). http://www.caledoniawi.com/files/Agendas_Minutes/Joint%20Meeting/Village_Board_Joint_minutes_20110301.pdf
San March 29, 2011 at 08:36 PM
The Village Board comments make it seem like this is an "all or nothing" world and that either we accept Walmart being shoved down our throats in a location that was supposed to be residential and conservation under the land use plan, or else, we are telling all development to get lost. That is a FALSE CHOICE and meant to polarize rather than create a clear understanding. What we are saying is that the Land Use plan was developed with a LOT of planning for the long term and should be adhered to. We welcome appropriate development in those areas of the Village that were slotted for commercial development. That is not telling everyone to get lost.. it is simply pointing out that we have a land use plan, that we want commercial development to fit within that plan, and that we welcome appropriate development within the framework of that plan. We keep talking about all the jobs, but i heard that Caledonia has only a 3.6% unemployment rate, which puts it at the low end anywhere in the country. The "jobs" would not be going to Caledonia residents but to Racine residents. That implies that they have to get to work somehow and that implies mass transit, and all the costs of dealing with that. There is an appropriate and right place for everything in this world, including Walmart. Unfortunately it is NOT at the corner of Highway 31 and 4 Mile Road for a large number of reasons, a few of which i mention here.
Rick Zinda March 29, 2011 at 11:40 PM
All these folks that want jobs should get together and petition the board to work hard at getting manufactures to move/build here. We already have places they can build where no one will complain, they don't (normally) bring crime, more than not they are long term employers and the whole village can feel better about itself knowing they helped build products not stack shelves.
Sheila Bielefeldt April 04, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Please don't have your goal be joining Caledonia with Oak Creek...in the guise of lowering taxes. We all know tax increase is inevitable. I have never seen them decrease. The traffic on 4 Mile is already atrocious and what will be next? Widening 4 Mile? A store like Walmart next to a nature preserve.....please don't!!!

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