Rite-Hite fighting Brown Deer eminent domain bid

Village seeking land to relocate public works facility

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:58 pm

Brown Deer-based Rite-Hite Holding Corp. is challenging an eminent domain action that would allow the village to seize six acres of land for a new public works facility.

The village of Brown Deer is seeking to acquire the parcel in blue via eminent domain.
The village of Brown Deer is seeking to acquire the parcel in blue via eminent domain.

The land is located directly north of Rite-Hite’s headquarters on Arbon Drive and has an assessed value of roughly $1 million. The company owns 10 percent of the land and owner Michael H. White owns the remaining 90 percent, according to court filings.

The village plans to relocate its public works facility to the land if it can acquire the parcel. Rite-Hite filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court in January seeking to block the action.

The company issued a press release Thursday and said the village is attempting to use eminent domain after “several failed bids by the (village) board to buy the six-acre parcel from Rite-Hite and White.”

The company also says losing the land would limit its options for expanding its corporate headquarters at the current location. It said it would be encouraging its 220 employees along with other Brown Deer residents to urge the board to drop the eminent domain action.

“Rite-Hite has been a proud Brown Deer resident and community partner for more than three decades,” said Sara Everts, Rite-Hite corporate marketing and communications manager. “As the company continues to grow, the loss of this land through eminent domain would hamper Rite-Hite’s ability to potentially expand in its current location and force it to evaluate other growth avenues outside of Brown Deer. We’re asking the Village Board to abandon this action and support its local businesses and residents.”

In court documents, the company notes that the public works facility is currently located within a tax incremental financing district and that Rite-Hite has been “informed from an independent source that the TIF district is failing.”

Moving the public works building out of the TIF district would create additional development opportunities on the 3.6 acre parcel that could help the village boost the value of the district.

The village acknowledged the facility is within a TIF district in its answer to the lawsuit, but stressed that the move is in the public interest.

The village board passed a resolution in July that indicated the current facility was in need of repairs, was too small and not in the best location for its purposes. The board discussed removing the facility from the TIF district in 2015 as a way to improve the health of the district, according to meeting minutes.

Brown Deer officials were not immediately available for comment.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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