Franklin Common Council to reconsider Strauss Brands project

Proposed meat processing plant was rejected two weeks ago

Rendering: ESI Design Services
A rendering of the 152,000-square-foot meat processing facility Strauss Brands planned to build in Franklin. Rendering: ESI Design Services

Last updated on November 3rd, 2020 at 01:19 pm

Franklin Common Council members tonight will reconsider Strauss Brands LLC’s proposed new meat processing facility, nearly two weeks after rejecting those plans.

Franklin-based Strauss wants to build a new 152,000-square-foot meat processing facility on 30.2 acres southwest of West Loomis Road and the new Monarch Drive, where it would process up to 500 head of cattle per day and employ more than 270 people. The project represents an expansion of its current operations in the city.

In October, Franklin aldermen rejected on a 4-2 vote a needed special use permit on the project. It would have been the final approval needed, minus building permits, for Strauss to begin construction.

Strauss president Jerald Bussen urged in a letter to the city that officials reconsider their decision.

“Strauss has been located within the City of Franklin for over (50) years, and hopes to strengthen its role as a pillar in the community by developing a new processing facility that will add good paying jobs, expand the City’s tax-base, and spur economic growth beyond this project,” Bussen wrote.

S.R. Mills, chief executive of Kenosha-based Bear Development, also urged the city to reconsider the project. Bear is the developer of Loomis Business Park where Strauss plans to build its facility. The company acquired the 30.2-acre site from Bear two years ago.

“Strauss would be a catalyst for future industrial development and not approving the proposed Special Use Permit (would be) a significant detriment to future industrial users considering a relocation to the Loomis Business Park,” Mills wrote.

Strauss may also take legal action against the city if the project is not approved. City documents note the possibility that aldermen enter into closed session on Monday “to confer with legal counsel … with respect to potential litigation” regarding the special-use request.

The city received a letter from Paul Kent and Rick Mathe, two lawyers representing Strauss, that states denial of the special use “is not consistent” with requirements laid out in state statutes.

A number of companies that do business in Franklin also recently expressed alarm over the Common Council’s denial of the Strass project.

Strauss has had a difficult time getting its project approved, as it has faced stiff resistance from groups who allege it would create “serious public health (and) environmental pollution issues.”

Last year Strauss put forward plans to build its new facility in the Century City business park in Milwaukee, but ran into opposition there as well and withdrew its plans after local alderman Khalif Rainey withdrew his support for the project.

Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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