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Ad Hoc Committee to Discuss Possible Extension of I-794

Board members to look for ways to link I-794 and Highway 31 together.

If you have concerns about development along Highway 31, you might want to learn more about the possible extension of I-794 through Caledonia.

In January, Ron Coutts, the Village President, established an ad hoc committee to look at how the Interstate might extend from Oak Creek through Caledonia via Highway 31.

Board Members Tom Weatherston and Kevin Wanggaard will be on the Committee, which will meet for the first time Wednesday.

Weatherston said he would like to find a way for I-794 and Highway 31 to link up because it creates a link between Milwaukee and Chicago.

“This means opportunities exist here for business growth,” Weatherston said.

However, if changes are to be considered, the land use plan would also need to be reconsidered because when the land use plan was done, Highway 31 was still a two-lane road.

“We’ve been talking about updating the land use plan and looking at where we want to be,” Weatherston said. “With Wal-Mart proposing to build an 115,000 square-foot store last week, this has the potential for other properties on 31 that should be commercial.”

But Weatherston said many people living near the proposed Wal-Mart have already voiced opposition.

“The people on Highway 31 want the development to be on Highway 32,” Weatherston said. “But a development this large is hard to do on 32.”

In January, the Community Development Authority from Julie Anderson, director of Racine County Planning and Caledonia's zoning administrator and Peter Glaser, of CB Richard Ellis Real Estate, about that very topic.

Anderson said in January that the Highway 32 the corridor has several development difficulties, including where the corridor is located and low traffic counts.

With heavy development occurring on Highway 38 in Oak Creek, 27th Avenue in Franklin and Highway 31 in Racine, Caledonia residents are already used to traveling to those areas to shop and there's just not enough residential growth to support retailers here, Anderson said.

Glaser agreed.

"Caledonia is close enough, but kind of far away and retailers just don't see a reason to come here," he said.

"Another problem you have is assembling desirable acreage," Julie Anderson said. "Buying buildings is just not that easy to do right now."

But bringing more traffic flow through the area via I-794 could change that dynamic significantly, which is what Weatherston and Wanggaard will be discussing at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the East Side Community Center, 6156 Douglas Ave.

JW March 07, 2011 at 05:12 PM
I really like this idea... but I am very much pro the development of Caledonia with forward thinking. Now is the time to do that. Looking at the proposed 4 mile road site again this weekend, I think I change my stance of not thinking that was a good location. It really is not a bad location for something like a Walmart. For sure, I would rather have a Target, but I think it is a good location for something retail. The only drawback is that the intersection really cannot support retail on all sides... but maybe that is more of a good thing than a bad thing. Eventually those who love the more wide open spaces are going to have to give in to losing some of them. Now is the time to guide where the growth will occur rather than fighting against it.
JW March 07, 2011 at 05:25 PM
The residential growth will be coming. It is not right to judge the pace of growth during down economic times. Gotta think further ahead than that. Logically Caledonia is perfectly situated as a very good commutable option to Milwaukee or even northern IL. And lot prices are more reasonable here than in Milwaukee County. In a boom time, Caledonia is going to keep getting more and more notice from people who work in Milwaukee and are looking to build outside of it.
Frances Martin March 07, 2011 at 11:40 PM
the tax mill rate in Mt. Pleasant,and Sturtevant,too,both much more developed than Caledonia , are higher than Caledonia's. The additional costs of roads, extra police etc. apparently eat up any benefit from retail taxes.This article speaks about retail development as though it's an end in itself, but, as the Romans said long ago,"cui bono"? or"who benefits? developers, of course; maybe retailers, but how does it help residents? Gary Indiana has a lot of development, too,but do we really want to become another junky stripmalled spot? You don't hear residents of, say, River Hills, In Milwaukee county, or the North shore Ill suburbs begging to put strip malls in their residential areas--they keep them in the commercial areas. Keeping the Caledonia area beautiful and green is the best attraction for the next generation of commuters,not stripmalling it. Change zoning on 31 now, maybe your street next. BTW the 115000 sq ft proposed WalMart is the same size as the now empty big box where Sam's Club was.
JW March 07, 2011 at 11:59 PM
The real problem is that they have never rezoned 31. 31 really is the perfect corredor to have new Caledonia retail development as it is already multi-laned and easy access to the larger pockets of residential areas with plenty of open spaces that do not immediately abut major residential areas. When growth happens, some houses will always be affected, that is unavoidable. Right now, its not like there is a subdivison or large number of houses butted up against that 4 mile road and 31 corner. Even across the street, geographically there is a nice hill and such, it breaks things up for those who own those houses. Eventually retail is coming... so plan for it and allow for it. If not along 31... how about throwing out some ideas of where else things can go? I do not understand the people who just act as if no new retail development should go on. That is too short sighted.
JW March 08, 2011 at 12:00 AM
no one I have seen has ever said they want retail on every inch of potential land... or tons of sprawling strip malls. There is a middle ground between that and nothing that is good for everyone.
Jeff Warg March 08, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Mt Pleasant's mill rate is only 11 cents higher than Caledonia this year, Sturtevant is indeed much higher. Here is a link to story about mill rates: http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/article_69563126-0c32-11e0-972d-001cc4c03286.html Hwy 32 would be more appealing to development if it was 4 lanes all the way north to Oak Creek instead of the 1950's era two lane segment north of 5 Mile Rd.
Sandy March 08, 2011 at 02:08 PM
I thought the land use plan was a direct product of us paying for research and development of such to determine where the best development areas were, where the best areas to keep residential were and where we wanted to have industry. Was that a waste of money? Were those people on the board and being paid to do this research extremely short sighted? It wasn't that long ago so how is it that we are even discussing these things with Wal-Mart and whomever else about the I-794 expansion? How about every resident of Caledonia gets a copy of the land use plan with every area marked for if it is residential, commercial or industrial. Include another with the proposed changes and let the residents of Caledonia decide if THEY want to change it. Let us see how many of us chose to live in Caledonia for it's rural and quiet way of life. Not every town, village and city HAS to be developed to the hilt!
Sandy March 08, 2011 at 02:10 PM
You start with one retailer and then how do you stop? Apparently Ron Coutts doesn't know how to say no so it should be up to the rest of us to drown out his voice.
Elisa Weeks March 11, 2011 at 05:25 PM
I'm curious, where ARE the areas that the land use plan designates as open to commercial development? And have those areas been considered for the proposed walmart? If not, why not?

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