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Mukwonago braces for development on 1,600 acres
By Charles Rathmann, of SBT
Village of Mukwonago planning commission members on Nov. 27 approved a Tax Incremental District (TID) plan for the first phase of what promises to be more than 1,600 acres of new development on the south side of the Waukesha County community.
TID #3 includes 239 acres currently located on the south end of the village, a parcel that according to Village Clerk/Treasurer Bernie Kahl will be augmented by about 400 acres being annexed from the Town of Vernon and an additional 1,200 acres across the Walworth County border in the Town of East Troy.
The combined parcels straddle State Highway 83 and Interstate-43, and will be zoned for commercial, corporate business and industrial land uses, according to Kahl.
The TID package, which will go to the village board in January, would allow the village to pay for a portion of the cost to provide municipal services including sanitary and storm sewer, water and road improvements to the first 239 acres, making it easier to market the properties to commercial and industrial buyers. Total projected cost to the village, according to the plan commissioned from village engineers Ruekert & Mielke, Pewaukee, will be $9.6 million over five years. The cost would be recovered through the increased tax base created by the new development.
The Town of Vernon received a copy of Mukwonago’s annexation petition in mid-November. Town of Vernon Clerk Marilyn Gauger said no efforts to oppose the annexation have been placed on the town board’s agenda to date, and board members have not asked her to make resistance to the move an agenda item.
Kahl said he was also unaware of any resistance to the annexation, adding that all property owners in the annex petitioned to come into the village.
That is in contrast to the situation in the Town of East Troy. On June 20, 2000, the Village of Mukwonago passed ordinances annexing four parcels of land in response to a petition from residents, including multifamily/assisted living developer Linden Properties, LLC, Mukwonago.
On Sept. 13, 2000, the town filed four separate actions against the village, challenging the annexation. The annexation has been tied up in court ever since.
However, in November, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) reached a determination that should the disputed land be developed, it could be better served with sanitary sewer by the village than the Town of East Troy Sanitary District #2, which would pipe waste from the area to a wastewater treatment plant in the Village of East Troy.
Less costly
According to SEWRPC’s conclusions, capital costs to build sanitary sewers from the disputed area to the village of East Troy would be $470,000, while capital costs to serve the area from Mukwonago would be $290,000. Annual costs to provide sewer service to the area from East Troy would be more than twice as high as piping waste to Mukwonago – $38,000 versus $19,300.
“We had been working with the Village of Mukwonago on this for several months,” SEWRPC executive director Philip C. Evenson said. “We are under contract to the DNR to work with communities in the region that operate sewage treatment plants to establish a sewer service area. Occasionally, we get into sticky-wicket situations where communities are growing together and both of them desire to serve a particular geography. We encourage communities to negotiate and agree upon a common boundary.”
While SEWRPC found that the entirety of the disputed area could be better served by the Village of Mukwonago, village attorney Shawn Ryan said the agency is expected to initially add only a portion of the land to the village’s sanitary service area.
“What they are approving at their meeting Dec. 4 is only a small portion of the land – a sliver between Highway ES and I-43,” Ryan said.
According to a Nov. 6 letter from Evanson to  James Wagner, Mukwonago village board president, SEWRPC would initially consider a 155-acre expansion of the village’s sewer service area, but ongoing work to update the sewer service plan “is expected to result in further expansion of the Mukwonago sewer service area.”
The fact that SEWRPC would not likely immediately add all 1,200 acres to Mukwonago’s sewer service area may be largely political.
Evenson stressed that SEWRPC works for both Waukesha and Walworth counties, as well as the other counties and communities in the region. It is better, he said, to allow entities to come to their own agreement when at all possible.
Wagner and Town of East Troy chairman Clay Montez are expected to meet before the month is out to hammer out a boundary agreement, ending the two-year-plus court fight, Ryan said.
Village officials are confident enough in their success with the annexations from the Town of Vernon and the Town of East Troy to already have considered zoning options for the property.
Mixed use
According to Kahl, the annexed area would have a mixture of zoning, including public, residential and manufacturing uses.
Kahl said infrastructure for the first phase of the development would be constructed starting in spring of 2003. Apart from roads and extension of utilities, State Highway 83 would need to be widened to provide adequate access to the site.
“We are creating the TID with a sunset at 15 years but plan to close it after 10 years,” Kahl said, implying that land zoned for retail is expected to sell quickly. “We have a number of people saying we need to get a Woodman’s (Madison-based grocery store) here. We are talking to Kohl’s, but they said they probably wouldn’t be ready for another two years. But there may not be land left by then. We are talking to Home Depot, and Waukesha Memorial Hospital is putting up an expansion here.”
Waukesha Memorial Hospital spokesperson Clare O’Sheel said the hospital and its parent company, ProHealthcare, Inc., are planning a 50,000-square-foot replacement for its existing primary care clinic on Bay View Road in the village, along with a 50,000-square-foot ambulatory care clinic.
“We are treating about 50,000 patients a year there, and we are running out of space,” O’Sheel said of the existing Mukwonago facility.
The ambulatory care facility will have hospital services run by Waukesha Memorial Hospital, including diagnostic imaging, lab services, cardiac diagnostics, medical oncology and a center for breast care and women’s health.
The hospital has purchased 19 acres in the TID, which has been augmented by an additional 14 acres donated to the Waukesha Memorial Hospital Foundation by local developer and landowner Dick Greenwald, according to O’Sheel.
The construction timeline will depend on the approval of the TID, but O’Sheel indicated that plans will be submitted for review by the village in January.
If all goes well, “we would hope to break ground this spring with opening the following spring,” O’Sheel said.
Dec. 6, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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