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Incumbents Mum on Walmart at Forum

Two village board members up for re-election declined to say whether they support Walmart's location because they fear a potential lawsuit from a group that opposes the proposed location. The challengers who attended said it's all about locati

The proposed Walmart dominated the Racine Taxpayers’ Association’s candidate forum Thursday night.

But people looking for the incumbents' take on the big box discount retailer coming to town were disappointed. Village President Ron Coutts and Trustee Kevin Wanggaard—both up for re-election—declined to say whether they would support the at the southeast corner of 4 Mile and Green Bay roads.

The two said they were afraid there may be legal action coming from Caledonia Advocating for Responsible Planning, a group that has opposed Walmart coming to that location. Group organizer Jim Tiderman told the village board on Monday that CARP has incorporated into an LLC and that they are seeking legal counsel to represent their interests.

Coutts and Wanggaard took Tiderman’s statement to mean the group was going to file a lawsuit against the village, and said that’s why they didn’t say whether they support the Walmart development. Both candidates said they were advised not to say whether they were for or against the proposed location for Walmart.

Katie Tiderman, Jim’s wife, said after the forum on Thursday that Jim did not threaten the board with a lawsuit, but just letting them know the group was seeking legal counsel to represent its interests during the planning process for Walmart.

Trustee candidates Eddie Willing, Maureen Cramer, and Jim Dobbs were not at the forum.

Challengers Say Location is Problem, Not Walmart

President candidate Bob Bradley said he does support Walmart coming to Caledonia.

"I support any business wanting to come into Caledonia, but we have a responsibility to explore these projects," Bradley said. "But I’m not in favor of the spot they want to go in because there are too many undefined issues."

Trustee candidate David Prott said in his conversations with residents, a lot of people don’t want Walmart on the corner of Four Mile Road and North Green Bay.

“But the jury is still out on this and I think we need some more facts,” Prott said. “I think that location is just awful. It’s just not a feasible spot. Highway 31 would have been a better spot.”

Trustee candidate Richard Frazier said that while he was in favor of Walmart coming to Caledonia, he needs more information on the current proposal.

“Until I have enough information, I wouldn’t want to pre-judge the project either way,” Frazier said.

Coutts and Wanggaard—both incumbents seeking re-election—did not answer the question for reasons outlined earlier. Wanggaard did, however, offer this:

“There’s a process that has to be followed and the process is currently being followed through the land use plan and our Plan Commission,” he said. “Once those questions have been answered… the process will – once played out – give credence for the development or it will not.”

Read candidates' views on the village's sewer and water plans.

San March 25, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Actually many communities get sucked into the idea that all development is good without fully understanding the consequences as they are not planning professionals. Big box retailers understand this and use their power,money, legal staff to roll over these communities who wind up in many cases suffering later. Some places however are starting to realise this and not simply get manipulated. Ed willing has proposed a reasonable approach here of reviewing our village land use plan, looking at the issues, dealing with infrastructure and then taking action to implement the results. Everyone wants to solve the issues facing the village. We need to sily do this carefully and not blindly.
Tansandy March 25, 2013 at 12:38 AM
"it does not appear that the CURRENT traffic on 4 mile is a problem" Yep, it's been closed for a year. But honestly, I get a big kick out of all these traffic experts. What are the actual daily auto counts? When is peek times? What is the projected traffic load? Until you know all these numbers, don't even claim to be a traffic expert. There are companies that do only that for a living. When you have the numbers, I'll listen. But then again, maybe you don't want people to really see that it is possible the road is underutilized now. And like I said before, if Caledonia Zoning and Planning committee is on top of things, all the added infrastructure work would have to be included in the site plan and paid for by the developer. Other communities do it all the time, and you would be surprised what they get the developers to pay for. But then again, you have be looking forward.
San March 25, 2013 at 12:57 AM
the definition of class B highway sets forth the load it can carry. neither Green Bay Road nor 4 Mile was designed with a major 182,000 square foot walmart in mind. But it is not just these two roads that are involved, as the demographic pull of this walmart will create congestion for highway 32 and highway 31 and other roads as well as they come into the "hub" and collect in Caledonia. This in turn makes the commuting from the bedroom community and back much more an issue, adds more noise, pollution and congestion in many places. it is not so simple to say "make sure the developer pays" because many consequences are not known in advance by "citizen commissions or boards" and this does not solve the quality of life issues that get deteriorated. just dumping a major walmart into the wrong area does not solve anything, and clearly the existing infrastructure is not in place to handle it. regarding traffic counts, etc. these are things that we would want to see as part of a planning and review process and since no one PLANNED on having a walmart in this crazy location, no one did traffic counts with that in mind! Thus, we would expect that a serious review would take a look at many such issues, including but not limited to this one. Those who try to push development without this kind of planning try to minimize these things before the review can be done. what is their agenda I wonder???
KEEP ON KEEPING ON March 25, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Do you think that people from Oak Creek will be shopping here with a WM on S. 27th, along a commercial hub where they can get all their shopping done? Do you think people in S. Milwaukee will just drive by their own WM to come all the way here? For 1 store and maybe a fast food place? Do you think enough people from N Racine, who are not heading into Caledonia for other shopping, to drop off their kids at school and most likely not for their jobs, will be enough to sustain a store of that size? Could just maybe the "leakage" study that told WM Caledonia NEEDED a supercenter (when mind you, 18 mths earlier a smaller WM was quite sufficient for the area) be in essence a smoke screen for possibly closing the WM in Sturtevant? With the new store in Somers, South Racine can go there. This of course is speculation, but fits with a pattern...
Caledonia Confused March 25, 2013 at 06:45 AM
So, the current Caledonia Land Use Plan was done by the neighborhood work groups. Were any of these people considered "Planning Professionals"? Oh wait, wasn't the VC-METRA done by SEWRPC? That would be the area everyone is concerned about now.
Tansandy March 25, 2013 at 10:45 AM
And your facts on these are coming from where??????
San March 25, 2013 at 12:14 PM
there was an extensive process that was intended to first and foremost allow the entire community to determine its own desired future, which is what the neighborhood work groups were about, but there was research and hearings, input from stakeholders both residential, commercial and governmental, and including input from SEWRPC, etc. The area that is under discussion now was NOT intended to be "big box" if you care to read the documentation, but to be a mixed use "boutique-type" town center. Included in the process was a study that indicated in fact that BIG BOX was over-saturated in the area and was not sustainable here, and information that indicated that big box was not something desired or desirable here. for various reasons. it was an extensive process that had many moving parts and a lot of input from a lot of different sides, including planning professionals.
Brian Dey March 25, 2013 at 01:34 PM
That was heavily slanted to the open space crowd. The area under discussion, if you read the document, was intended to be a village center with the center piece being the light rail train station. That has long passed and will not become reality. The board's decsion to readdress the area is prudent as the extensive study you speak of is no longer a reality.
Edward Willing March 25, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Actually, Katie, yes, people from Oak Creek will avoid the heavy traffic and time of driving 15-20 minutes to s 27th and COLLEGE to drive 10-15 minutes to a Caledonia location. Take a look at a googled map result of Walmart. We are directly in the middle of the gaping hole in their coverage of the area. So financially, yes it makes sense for them to move here. And, they have millions of dollars (and 30 years of success) riding on their studies being right about traffic and market patterns. This isn't an argument supporting their construction there on Green Bay Rd, but your statement had many mistakes in analysis. Also, the random proposal that Walmart wants to close sturtevant just doesn't make sense... Their store is VERY busy. There seems to be a presumption here that the company doesn't care about making money and only building wasteful boxes. Your other arguments have been logical and reasonable. But I cannot make sense of these latest ones... Walmart wants to make money. They will make money where they want to build. However, we all agree that location is obnoxious. Right now, it appears that statutorially we have few options to block it, but perhaps the owner or Walmart will change their mind? Not holding my breath. But I still wish out loud that our LUP had been updated much sooner so that perhaps they would have found a better location.
Edward Willing March 25, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Furthermore, SEWRPC doesn't even exist anymore either. The LUP is faulty, and now we are paying the price. No, the current location was not intended for a big box store, but Walmart has an arguable position, saying they can meet the demands of mixed use easily, with a slight variance. Minus the train station, it's still within the parameters the short sighted LUP assembled. Which is the problem. Few of us think Walmart should build there.... We may be stuck with it now, because of precious decisions or lack of one over the last decade or so. I hope to change that, with other fresh blood on the board. www.votewilling.com
San March 25, 2013 at 04:54 PM
we are not "stuck" with anything. the village has no obligation to agree to proposals that have downside and negative consequences, even if they might technically meet the zoning or the LUP which the walmart proposal does not. the LUP specifically set forth principles including not wanting big box, and wanting to preserve various values which the walmart plan does not meet. The consequences of putting walmart there do not even remotely meet the needs of the community and are likely to cost the village more than the tax revenue that comes in. on that basis, the community has the right to turn it down. by the way, new york city has been turning down walmarts for years! so there is no demand to simply cave in because they "want" something. it clearly is NOT within the framework as set forth in the LUP nor is the zoning appropriate. they also have no absolute right to any zoning changes. The zoning should be consistent with all neighboring uses, and clearly the residential neighbors have a valid objection. if there is no zoning change made, then the project could not proceed. it abuts two class B highways which are not set up for the traffic and trucks such a project would bring. There is no requirement to allow things that don't meet the needs of the infrastructure or that would cause other problems.
Edward Willing March 25, 2013 at 06:39 PM
You are right, San.... Except we risk getting sued b Walmart. And I do feel they would threaten it if the Board doesn't approve slight variances for its success. The best hope local homeowners have is trying to convince Walmart not to come. It doesn't look good right now, for stopping that location unless we can propose a better one.
Edward Willing March 25, 2013 at 06:41 PM
And the infrastructure needs could be proposed by Walmart and partially or whole paid for. I'm not saying that I support it. I'm simply stating the reality from the perspective of a developer, and what options they have to force it through. :-/
San March 25, 2013 at 06:44 PM
from what I was reading earlier, it appears some people believe we risk getting sued by some of the homeowners if this is done over their objection..... There is clearly no serious reading of the LUP that would say that big box was intended there...it would be a violation of all the principles of the LUP to imply that it does. in terms of a better location, the frontage road by I-94 would probably meet everyone's needs in the village. And certainly no village has to agree to do things against its interest and at costs that are not being covered. So in equity under law they would probably lose. New York City has been turning down walmarts for years but not being sued over it.... Elmwood Park turned one down, but they also did not get sued. I think there is therefore little likelihood they would sue the village over this one way or the other.
Caledonia Confused March 25, 2013 at 10:42 PM
All these planning professionals, residents, work group members, planning commission, and village board (was Caledonia a village then?) looked at the completed LUP plan and not one person at the time, up to final approval, found that as written commercial development IS allowed west of the railroad tracks in the VC-METRA area. The County 2035 Plan was approved AFTER the Village LUP. One other note, most of those same work group members are working on the NEW plan.
Caledonia Confused March 25, 2013 at 11:36 PM
SEWRPC is still around. I think you are thinking of the SE WI RTA. http://www.sewrpc.org/SEWRPC.htm The RTA hired SEWRPC to do the planning of KRM.
Caledonia Confused March 25, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Who would have thunk 2 years ago, while sitting in the Gifford ES auditorium listening to the ORIGINAL presentation by Walmart, that the LUP would be changed and a member of the Walmart legal team would be one of the members doing the changing?
Caledonia Confused March 26, 2013 at 12:10 AM
Where are all those "High Profit / Low Volume" stores lining up to build in Caledonia? They must be stupid for not wanting to build here. The only store looking to build here is one which is "not sustainable"? They also must be stupid, right?
KEEP ON KEEPING ON March 26, 2013 at 04:46 AM
Ed-please explain how WM can sue us for not allowing what you describe as a "slight" variance? from residential designation to all commercial for a 20+ acre site is a slight change? We have 5 village centers in our LUP. 4of them were designated mixed use according to the 2035 Plan map. ONLY the VC-M was broken down into specific uses for specific areas within the center. There is space for office, government, mixed use, commercial and residential. Problem for WM is the land they want doesn't have the designation they need. Maybe it is fear that is propelling this. I think we have established that the LUP needs a fresh look, but certainly wasn't a priority until now. I am very skeptical of an comment that basically says "WM is in charge here so we throw up our hands as leaders". So it's up to the community? Ed-is this the sentiment upon which you would join the board if you are elected?
Edward Willing March 26, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Yes, you are right. I didn't work out the letters. :) but I was referring to the SEWRTA. As for other businesses lining up, there aren't many yet as you say, because there aren't developers lining up. And, I feel it's because of a combination of factors that are able to be resolved or mitigated on the Board level.
Edward Willing March 26, 2013 at 01:21 PM
@Katie- I think anyone would be hard-pressed to point out where I have said that our sentiment should be throwing your hands up in the air. No, I've stated many times what my sentiment would be: to make fact-based judgements on a case by case basis. And I've also stated that I'm personally against that location, as are about 90% of the folks I've talked to door to door and at mtgs. The details you're bringing up here a legitimate but from a municipal standpoint, a slight variance. Mixed use still gives them the flexible designation they need. What I meant by sue, is if the village suddenly refuses to work with the landowner to single out a single development, it could create a perception on their side of impropriety. I'm only speaking in legal terms, but it's a reality. I worked with a developer that was part of a consortium that nearly went to court over something similar, but dealing with smaller retail and residential. In that case, it never went to court, and my company actually refused to be part of the plaintiffs case, but it still opened my eyes. Once we've come this far and flirted with it, we could find ourselves in trouble. Hopefully not... Legally, theres little that can e done other than public pressure on the company itself. heather Anisyabi will concur with this, having seen Mt Pleasant go through something similar. (Cont)
Edward Willing March 26, 2013 at 01:22 PM
(Cont) Again, I'm not trying to fight back on the Green Bay rd crowd, because I'm right there with you and feel this location is obnoxious. Perhaps I'm just being risky by pointing out the hard to swallow realities that I've seen faced before.... And I do so out of regret, not hope,
Edward Willing March 26, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Btw.... Don't give up. ;) If Walmart ends up asking caledonia for money to make needed improvements, I will fight it tooth and nail, whether I'm on the board or not. S Milwaukee gave millions in assistance to their WM project and I would not tolerate my village doing the same. If that occurs, your new LLC would have newfound and motivated purpose, and you'd find even more joining you. ;)
Edward Willing March 26, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Agreed, San, my only point is that the principles are only a guide. They aren't strict law. On a daily basis, villages and cities amend and make changes in areas to fit new uses. Legally, the LUP is not binding, but could have helped a better location be an option long before this debacle. The mixed use designation doesn't say "big box" but Walmart would develop mixed use to make it happen, adding in a few retail outlets to qualify. They find their way around these things. Bleh. I don't like it. You're right that Elwood park turned it down... Perhaps we could too. If it was just a straight up "yay" or "nay" on that location, I would too, as long as I'm confident it wouldn't leave us in a bad position. I've seen precedence before, but admittedly, on behalf of WM it's rare. Probably, though, because they usually get what they want, eventually. :-/
Edward Willing March 26, 2013 at 01:39 PM
The group that was formed was not assembled to change the LUP. That would be a more formal process, this group is out together regarding the current location and recommendations for it. Out of 8 members, one is a rep for the property owner and Walmart. That is quite common, even though it sounds salacious. As a party involved, any developer would usually have a representative as part of a workgroup. It keeps communication open, and efficient. Elaine Ekes backed up their participation, so perhaps a conversation with her would be be in order. The planning commission is what approved Tomczyk being on the group. So, planning commission, plus 8 new members makes that singular voice quite small, and only an advisory one. Hopefully that ratio makes it a little easier to swallow. what it means is that if you want to put the brakes on this project, reach out to the planning commission members at every meeting. Heather covered this event quite well here: http://caledonia.patch.com/articles/walmart-rep-picked-for-land-use-work-group
Edward Willing March 26, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Typo *this group is PUT together
KEEP ON KEEPING ON March 26, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Ed-Your insight is appreciated. And you have echoed many times my feelings regarding why we are in the situation we are in now. No one bothered to prioritize recognizes issues with our LUP before. And no real, legitimate concerns/questions were brought up by our board or PC back at the October WM presentation. For me to ask the board why they did not speak up about concerns and to have one in particular say to me "I was waiting for someone else to bring it up" is infuriating. To have not a single other retail representative other than the WM attorney on this workgroup is infuriating. To have some of the previous members never receive an invitation letter is infuriating. To request information 3 mths ago and finally get it yesterday is infuriating. And to mention the pursuit of legal advice as a resident and then be accused of suing the village is infuriating. An aside: Our Racine County Comprehensive plan provides a definition of mixed Use and other concepts relative to this type of designation on pg lX-11. There is a tremendous amount of information both in our village and county level LUP which reflects a designation and design concept that does not adhere to the WM proposal. But WM's sole goal is to "make it work". For them, not for the good of the community. And whatever the motivation, all appearances thus far have seemed to lend themselves to Wal-Mart's objectives and the concerns raised by the citizens have fallen on deaf ears.
Christine Ballewske March 26, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Seems like you are angry about something TS...........all this ranting and raving is really fruitless, do you live in the area of the proposed WM?
Christine Ballewske March 26, 2013 at 04:40 PM
It has been asked for many times.........
WIwishes March 26, 2013 at 11:57 PM
No, Daniel, I was not there.

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