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Michalski: The Land Use Plan isn't Written in Stone

With an eye on easing property taxes, Michalski would look to change the Village Land Use Plan to allow for more development.

Editor's note: Jim Dobbs and Duane Michalski are vying for a seat on the Caledonia Village Board. The election is slated for April 5. Here are Michalski's answers to several key questions.

Duane Michalski, 43, of 4715 N. Green bay Road, has lived in Caledonia for 17 years. He grew up in Franklin and works as a truck driver.

How would you characterize the village's financial position?

It’s pretty stable, for now. I think there will be potential stress though with the shared revenue cuts. But we have a great staff in Caledonia, who have already had salary cuts and pay more for benefits. We’re just going to have to get creative to deal with this.

What challenges face the village and how would you address those challenges?

I think there are cuts to be made in discretionary spending. If we make the equipment last a little longer, it would be the difference between spending $200,000 to $5,000. But a lot of the problems we have with our budget will be contingent on what we get for development.

What is your position on development?

I’m pro development. Growth will be the catalyst that will ease the tax burden in Caledonia. If we become a little bit more proactive with development along Interstate 94, Douglas Avenue, Highway K, and Highway 31, things will get going. If we get the development we need, it will stabilize our tax bills. I’d like to see a zero percent increase next year. As far as TIF – I think if it’s designed and done properly, they can be very successful.

Sewer and water would likely be a key element in how the Village might grow. Would you support sewer and water expansion in the village? How would you pay for it?

TIF districts are a good option. The best way to do that will be having the village come to grips with what we need to do as village. For as along as I’ve lived in Caledonia, we’ve been talking about getting water and sewer. Some want it, some don’t – but we as a village have to determine what we want to be.

If we do want to move forward with sewer and water, there needs to be an agreement with Oak Creek about water and Mt. Pleasant with sewer. We need to get together with all of those communities we need to figure out the real cost because I’ve heard numbers ranging from $15 to $50 million. Then we need to know how much are you looking to get out of it. I don’t think we know.

Also, we need to find grants from state and federal agencies for grants. I’m truly a fiscal conservative, but this is one of the things that I’m conflicted over. We have to address the bottom line.  We can raise taxes, finance these projects using a TIF and have it pay for itself, or use federal or state funding. And I’m pretty much looking at the TIF and State/Federal route.

I would never vote for increasing property taxes for anything. Between RUSD, the county, and Gateway, we don’t need to add to it with the village.

What should the long-term goals for the village be?

We need to decide our direction -- are we’re going to stay rural or are we going to stay rural with some development?

We also have to look at changing the land use plan. That document was done years ago. And it’s a plan. Things change. It’s not written in stone. I’d like to see if we can reduce the land requirement and find some balance so that everyone can be happy.

Want to see how Jim Dobbs answered these questions, .

Jay Warner March 24, 2011 at 02:46 AM
Without reading anything else, I wish to add to the information Mr. Michalski is working with. The Land use Plan was adopted in June of 2006, and amended in August and November of 2006. That's less than 5 years ago, and a large number of today's citizens and voters personally participated in its development. It recognized the need for development, with space allocated for commercial, industrial, and compact (if not dense) residential development. The space allocation, as I understand it, for the most part already has infrastructure - water & sewer & roads - so development there would not present a burden to the rest of the taxpayers in the Village. The Land Use Plan, which is available on the Village web site, may be a long read, but it is fascinating to those who find themselves in it, such as all voters in Caledonia. And the maps are neat! A theme running through the whole document says where we want to go as a community, and some ways we can get there. Open space has much more value than some people's idea of "development." Also keep in mind that unless residential homes are built where utilities are already available, it takes a home of about $300,000 to generate as much Village taxes as the home costs in services. Not all development is a net gain, even on a simple Village tax & budget level.
Edward Willing March 24, 2011 at 03:36 AM
I don't think this candidate has embraced "all development", as you've so blithely attached Mr. Michalski to. That being said, growth is literally the only way to create forward motion as a village years into the future. No matter where you try to develop you're going to find residents putting up green ribbons. If people want green space, keep moving west; a tradition begun 300 years ago still applies today. ;) I think Michalski and Dobbs both recognize the need for development, but Dobbs seems to be avoiding the issue as much as possible, which usually means go with the opinion the wind blows his way. it appears to me that Michalski has a PROACTIVE attitude that has already searched out details, wants more NOW, and wants the people of the village to make a decision for vision. We can't have an ambivalent board - it leads to an ambivalent populace, that leads to imbalanced and stunted growth. Caledonia needs to "make a decision", and their leadership choice determines this. Wal-Mart or not, something is going to change the area, and the public works projects must start soon. I believe we've seen enough examples of land use around SE Wisconsin to know what to do, and what not to. Now its time to start taking action, so we don't put it off another 15 years. That's an entire childhood/generation of missed opportunities!! BTW, those homes of $300,000 will be few and far between unless we embrace a better land use vision. So far, I'm going with Michalski
Kathy Aschebrock March 30, 2011 at 05:31 PM
I would just like to make my own personal statement on 794 expansion. As I drove it daily for five years, I sure hope that you don't think that it will be bringing people to Caledonia. It would just be another way to get people from Milwaukee to Chicago, even if you develop Hwy 31. No one or at least not many, will stop in Caledonia. For me, it will just be a direct route to Downtown Milwaukee and the East side. As I drove over the section, just before the lane collapsed on the bridge over summer fest , it is in Great need of repair. They had to hang nets under the bridge, to prevent concert from falling on cars parked below. Milwaukee is already talking, about taking the bridge down and rebuilding it . It's going to have to be repaired before it can be expanded . So I don't see it as much of an ISSUE, right now in re-zoning Hwy.31 or growing our tax base . Where's the money going to come from to repair it, Madison, the Federal Government , the Communities along the expanded route?
San March 31, 2011 at 09:45 AM
There should be no mistaking the fact that the silent majority of our community of which we hear, is the same silent majority that together crafted the land use plan and had it implemented with years of effort throughout the entire Village and in each neighborhood. The silent majority has spoken. They prefer quality of life to endless commercial development. There is no reason to attribute to the majority in the community anything other than what the land use plan clearly sets forth in very specific and clear terms.
San March 31, 2011 at 09:50 AM
why is it that those who live and work here in Caledonia, who either were here when the land use plan was implemented, or those who moved here because of the land use plan, are now being told they have to "move" to get the quality of life they thought they had settled on for Caledonia. Why not have those who favor development move to where the development is. Maybe we don't favor urban sprawl, and the problems that inevitably come with it, as our future. Maybe we prefer an unpolluted river, and less congestion, and more quiet, safe community to raise our families in and live out our retirements, and provide a suitable residential home environment as we pursue our careers in the various developed communities nearby. Anyone who does not like this picture clearly does not fit in with the sentiment expressed during the land use plan development and clearly if ANYONE should move, it is those who want to change the community radically from what this community clearly set forth in its deliberate planning efforts.
David Drake April 01, 2011 at 04:43 PM
I'm not against all development, but Walmart in eastern Caledonia sounds like a total disaster. It might be different they wanted to buy the old Douglas Avenue K-Mart and revitalize the area, but that's not what they are proposing.

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