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Village Board Moves Forward With Reevaluating Land Use Plan

Desperate for tax dollars, the Village wants citizen input on where commercial development could take place in Caledonia.

The Village Board approved a resolution Tuesday night to reexamine the land use plan for multiple areas in the Village.

Initially, the Board had limited the scope of the study to Highway 31. However, after further discussion, several board members felt other areas should be included in the study. In a 5 to 2 vote, the Village Board directed Julie Anderson, zoning administrator for the Village, to develop a list of areas that could be looked at for commercial development.

Jerry Griswold and Kathy Burton voted against the resolution. Griswold opposed expanding the scope of the study because he felt nothing would get accomplished.

A land use plan helps to guide development within municipalities and is intended to involve the community in the planning process.

Ron Coutts, the Village President, told the crowd that they weren't looking at the land use plans for a potential commercial development, even though one could happen on Highway 31 and Four Mile Road. Still, developers for a potential 115,000-square foot development, which would include a 40,000 square foot grocery store and other retail space, have yet to file a formal proposal with the planning department.

Coutts said they were looking at reevaluating the land use plans because of the potential I-794 extension that could come into Caledonia.

Anderson said she and the Village staff would make a list of potential areas for developemnt and prioritize the list, then bring that list back to the Village Board for approval. They would also solicit input from community members through neighborhood meetings and hold public hearings on any potential changes to those land use plans.

JW May 04, 2011 at 02:39 PM
All major highways should be fair game for development.... but the ones that make the most sense, to me, are 31 and 32 for restaurants and retail and near I94 for industrial development. I see no reason for industrial development to be done on 31 or 32 other than to use any buildings that already exist. Hwy 38 to me is a little different, at least currently, I see no reason to develop along it... it really just does not stack up well as a location for retail development because of its location. From the roundabout up to 6 mile it is pretty curvy and just is not a great location to meet the needs of the population. I really believe the location that Walmart proposed is a very good central location for a Caledonia retail development, whether Walmart or something else. I think 5 mile and 31 would be a good high school location (or maybe 6 mile and 32). I think its time for the majority of citizens to speak up and help drive Caledonia to the future. Griswold and Burton may not get my votes in the future now. Burton claimed to be pro-development, but apparently is closed to Hwy 31 as an option. I have still never bought the existing Land Use Plan as a valid argument for why things should not change. It was the first land use plan created for the village... mistakes will be made... and having every zone draft their own "plan within a plan" was a mistake. That would not best serve Caledonia as a whole. Caledonia should be more development friendly.
Sandy May 04, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Patchreader's point about opening up Hwy 31 to development being at cross purposes with the I-794 expansion is an excellent point and one that has to be considered as well when looking at where to put commercial properties here in Caledonia. The current I-794 expansion IS a freeway type highway and DOES NOT have businesses located directly on it. It actually doesn't have a lot of businesses located directly off of it either. Layton Ave has the most commercial offerings and that doesn't run parallel to I-794 but perpendicular to it. If the expansion here mimics the expansion in Milwaukee then you will have the properties on Hwy 31 with big walls that shield them from the highway. Your major exits would probably be 6 Mile, 4 Mile & Hwy K. Unless they divert the Root River, 4 Mile is not a viable option for commercial business west of I-794. East on the North side of 4 Mile may be an option. 6 Mile Road already has some commercial business and could be more easily built up. Hwy K has the Root River situation East and lots of residential west so that would be a difficult situation as well.
Sandy May 04, 2011 at 03:49 PM
In thinking about commercial placement opportunities in Caledonia it is very prudent to also think about locations for our own schools. To best serve Caledonia as a whole you have to know what the people want and we would like our own schools. Looking at the land use plan with all factors considered, not just where to put commercial properties, is the direction the Caledonia residents expect our board to go in. Think 10, 20, 30 years down the road and what placement of residential, educational and commercial properties will do for our residents then is vital. Looking to solve current problems and give us long term progress at the same time will help our future generations to not be in the same situation, or potentially worse, that we are in now. As a side note: Not every town or village needs to have the goal of "big city living". If you need that, then you owe it to yourself and those around you to find a town or village that has those goals in mind and can use your input and support.
Greta Mueller May 04, 2011 at 05:02 PM
JW - I've talked with Mrs. Burton for an explanation of her vote and I understand where she's coming from. Her fear is if we open up the entire land use plan for discussion, nothing will get done and focus will be taken away from the immediate needs of looking at Hwy 31 and a possible outlet for 794 - she has a point. Remember the initial neighborhood planning took three years - do we really want to open up that can of worms again, or should this be more of a discussion on areas where development has a real and immediate potential?
Denise Lockwood May 04, 2011 at 07:12 PM
When I spoke to Julie Anderson, she said the heavy lifting on the land use plan was really already done and that to revisit it wouldn't take that long, but she said they would be prioritizing the areas that needed to be looked at and would be able to give more of a time line when they make those determinations.
San May 05, 2011 at 01:44 PM
if we are talking about potentially making radical changes to the adopted plan, then i submit that the "heavy lifting" has not yet begun. IF the heavy lifting was done and the plan was thereby developed and adopted, then how do we simply go in and change areas of the village from low density residential and rural to heavy commercial development? The impact of these on the environment, economic impact, traffic and congestion, pollution issues, etc. are dramatically different. Thus, i suspect that any question of the sort that is being debated will require new "heavy lifting".
San May 05, 2011 at 01:49 PM
the real question is WHY? The type of development that has been proposed has been shown in studies around the country to INCREASE the tax burden on the citizens. So if the goal is to somehow decrease the tax burden, this is the wrong way to do it. It simply amounts to a SUBSIDY TO WALMART BY THE CITIZENS OF CALEDONIA so they can carry out their plan to systematically ensure that the USA is addicted to Chinese goods. Walmart single-handedly imports 10% of everything we import from China, plus what they buy through their numerous suppliers. 60-70% of everything sold in Walmart in fact originates in China. They are the single largest cause of our trade deficit and the billions of dollars the Chinese accumulate each year to control our financial system, and of course, the huge loss of manufacturing jobs in this country. Walmart is the key agent of the Chinese in accomplishing this. Why exactly do we need to support this here when there are walmarts in every direction within a few miles, for those who support their business model?
Denise Lockwood May 05, 2011 at 02:49 PM
San -- What Julie was referring to when she made that statement was that the land use plan is only part of a comprehensive planning documents, which includes nine different elements -- one of which is the land use plan. The entire document is well over 600 pages long and includes everything from parks to transportation to housing stock to schools. And the plan does get changed all of the time. I'm not saying it should or shouldn't be changed, I'm saying that there's a lot of knowledge in those documents that already exists.
Duane Michalski May 05, 2011 at 03:34 PM
san, the Land Use Plan is nothing more then a "suggestion" it is not a law or anything else that is considered "binding" We the people of Caledonia can and should constantly revue this document. When it was originally written it was way too restrictive to property owners. It still is. This is what is single handedly killing Caledonia. I am so sick of everyone thinking that Milkey was some sort of God! She was and still is a far left eco nut! It took a long time to ruin Caledonia, I hope it doesn't take nearly that long to fix it. People keep saying things like " I am all for development" but when asked where the response is always the same. "I don't care as long a it doesn't hurt the ponies or the river" The funny thing about that is these are the same people that don't give a damn about the river. They just want to have the "county" in their yard. What a Joke. why would you build your house on a state highway?
San May 05, 2011 at 03:39 PM
First of all you are incorrect. The land use plan was developed under State Statute for the purpose of having Wisconsin towns and villages engage in "smart growth" rather than random development which could be very negative in the future if carried out "willy nilly". Because it is governed by statute, the process of adopting it and amending it is set under the statutory requirements. The second part 0f course is that the course you are proposing does not at this point look to meet the criteria for "smart growth" but essentially is "development for development sake" which is counter-productive, costly and damaging to the future of the Village. Why shoudl we not be a primarily bedroom community with less stress, less pollution, less congestion etc? The type of development you are proposing generally costs villages more money than it brings in, so the question is WHY? Third, there are thousands of miles of state highways in Wisconsin that are rural, forested, or low density residential and are meant to stay that way. They are meant to provide relatively fast, uncongested access for communities to reach urban hubs for jobs and shopping and that is what Highway 31 in Caledonia in fact does at this time. it would not do so under your plan. Fourth, the River and the environment are important assets to our community and should be cared for as good stewards as any conservative knows.
San May 05, 2011 at 03:42 PM
as long as we are willing to rely on the knowledge that is in the plan already in key areas, i would tend to agree that after five years not enough has changed to warrant re-doing those segments. But if the idea is to use this as an excuse to "blow up" the land use plan, then clearly all kinds of assumptions that went into every aspect of the planning need to be looked at. It depends on the integrity of the process and the intentions of those seeking to make major changes to it. One way or the other we have an obligation to take care not to do harm through willy-nilly development that does not address the many essential issues that were reviewed in developing the smart growth plan under State Statute.
patchreader 123 May 05, 2011 at 03:44 PM
State statute says that the land Use Plan "shall be updated NO LESS than once every 10 years," and thus does not encourage short term changes or review. The extended time span makes sense, given that possible long term changes to a community take time to develop. Apply this to the present situation in relation to the possible 794 extension. No-one presently knows IF the extension will occur, or WHERE it will enter and go through Caledonia. Julie Anderson herself acknowledged this during the meeting. Will it follow 38 and tie into 31 north of K (in view of the present plans to make 38 a 4 mile lane highway between Ryan Rd and 31)? Will it follow 32 and tie into 31 at 6 mile, 4 mile, or somehere further south? To support the down town Racine lakefront economy, would it continue to follow the RR tracks to be closer to the down town area (31 is far west of Main Street)? Will 794 indeed be an interstate through Caledonia or remain a highway? Commercial developments don't make sense along an interstate, but for at the on/off ramps, because the underlying purpose of an interstate is to allow for congestion free travel. All of the foregoing questions remain. The 794 study however, the only way to answer such questions, will itself take years to complete. And after the study is complete, public hearings, funding determinations and legislation, and possible eminent domain proceedings would likely occur, all of which which will take time.
Sandy May 05, 2011 at 03:45 PM
One thing san forgot to mention is that many of the houses on hwy 31 were built on it when it was just a two lane country road. As mentioned, many "highways" in Wisconsin and other states are rural and just because they are called a highway doesn't mean they should be considered a developmental corridor.
patchreader 123 May 05, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Land Use Plans thus encourage review no earlier than 10 years for these very reasons, to accommodate for infrastructure planning and change that itself takes time to complete. If the 794 extension was indeed complete, with the type of road (interstate or highway) and location finalized, then that situation would likely call for a review of the land use plan to see if changes need to be made. Proposing to change the land use plan at present makes little sense given all of the remaing questions relating to the possible 794 extension, questions which will not be answered for years to come. And if changes are made to the present land use plan now, and those changes end up being in total conflict with the location and type of road of of '794 through Caledonia (i.e., retail and restaurant development ends up located at the midpoint of an interstate), then what? Finally, Land Use Plan amendments cost money to complete. When to spend such money making associated amendments should be done sensibly.
Kathy Aschebrock May 07, 2011 at 02:40 AM
San ,Sandy, Could I ask either of you a Question.As I'm not knowledgeable on how The Caledonia Village does things and would like an answer from someone that seems to understand the inner workings. Here's my question, DOES Caledonia have someone in office that goes out and presents our village to companies that might be looking for a place to open a new business or relocate to? Or does it wait for someone to show an interest in the village first? Is there a committee of people that promote the village? jUST WONDERING, how things work.
Greta Mueller May 07, 2011 at 06:24 PM
Kathy, noticed no one has chimed in yet, so thought I'd tell you what I know. NO, we can't afford "development" staff, per se, whereas many municipalities have a dedicated development director. We pay an annual fee to Racine County Economic Development Corporation ($30,000 if memory serves and I think it's still funded by WisPark via the power plant expansion agreement with We Energies) for them to do our bidding, but we're competing with all the other municipalities in Racine County. It's hard to say to what extent Caledonia is marketed to potential businesses vs say Racine, Mt. Pleasant, Burlington, etc., because we lack the services at the freeway - a huge competitive disadvantage. When a potential development comes knocking at RCEDC's door either by chance our through their marketing efforts, RCEDC will steer them in the right direction based on the company's wants and need - may or may not be Caledonia. If a company or development comes knocking at our door directly, or via developer, we're in reactionary mode. We briefly had an Economic Development Committee, but that morphed into our Community Development Authority, which, according to state statutes, has a much different function than an EDC . Unfortunately, the EDC was only in existence for a short time and our CDA also functions in more of a reactionary mode, and only meets sporadically.
patchreader 123 May 07, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Greta is right. Caledonia presently has the Community Development Authority. The web site refers to the CDA, whereas the description describes the EDA (i.e., "[t]he primary goal of the Economic Development Committee is to attract viable businesses into the Village that will enable the community to grow and prosper.")??? Not sure what the function of the CDA is (in view of the confusing description) or how aggressive the Village has been in terms of offense (vs. reactionary mode). The agendas/minutes listed on the web site have gaps between 2008 and 2010/11.
San May 07, 2011 at 08:13 PM
If we determine that we want to focus on growth that provides positive net income to the village it would be possible to market the community relatively easily as it has strong positives as a residential low density community. This approach would yield better result than waiting for what shows up by chance
Kathy Aschebrock May 07, 2011 at 09:33 PM
THANK YOU ALL, It was very informative, Guess I'll know who to ask when I have questions again. San I do agree. The strong positives you spoke of is what brought me here.

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