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Land Swap Deal

The village boards of both Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant will meet Wednesday to discuss a proposed land swap deal that could salvage business development and new jobs for the area.

Sturtevant trustees July 15 approved what they thought was a done deal, but less than a week later were informed that was not the case.

Since then, the Mount Pleasant Village Board has met twice in closed session to talk about the situation, returning after each meeting to direct Village Administrator Kurt Wahlen to continue “preliminary conceptual negotiations.”

At the heart of the issue is a proposed agreement that would move 66 acres into Sturtevant in exchange for water and sewer connections to a potential development site in Mount Pleasant on Durand Avenue next to the UNFI location currently under option-to-purchase by local businessman Ray Leffler in partnership with the folks from Reesman Excavating in Burlington.

At the Aug. 7 Mount Pleasant meeting, Leffler spoke during public comment and told trustees that not only does his option-to-purchase expire next week but also that the lack of cooperation between the villages may cost the area a 660,000 square foot building and “lots of jobs.”

“We had one hot party who is now looking at Kenosha because we couldn’t guarantee them a delivery date (for sewer and water),” he said. “I believe they’ll circle back because they’re not happy with the Kenosha property, but we are the secondary location.”

Leffler said the Fonk farm has some infrastructure already in the ground that he and the Reesmans put in at their own expense and that they will try to get an extension on their option.

Gary Rosecrans from Ashley Capital also spoke to the Mount Pleasant board. Ashley is interested in developing the 66 acres that would get a Sturtevant address if they villages can work out a deal. He said Ashley’s plans work well with Leffler’s, and he stressed the importance of getting something done so Racine County continues to look good to other developers.

“Our projects compliment each other but don’t overlap, and there would be benefits spread to both villages,” he said. “When others view the market in Racine County that will spur additional development for big dividends.”

At the Aug. 5 Sturtevant board meeting, County Executive Jim Ladwig gave the villages until Aug. 15 to reach an agreement or risk losing a development with 350 jobs. He did not provide any specifics about which potential business deal he referred.

The joint village board meeting begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Sturtevant Village Hall, 2801 89th Street. Call (262) 886-7200.