After two unanimous approval votes Wednesday, three parcels along Highway 11 were declared as blighted property, the Village of Sturtevant can now move forward with its development and redevelopment plans for the Durand Avenue corridor.
The land is located in the 8400 block of Durand Avenue and was part of the defunct Cobble Court development that fell through in large part because of the 2008 recession. Racine County foreclosed on the properties last fall, and Sturtevant put in an offer to purchase last month for $275,000 that has expired and has not been reviewed by the county board.
The Community Development Authority last met on May 4 to consider the blighted designation question but had to wait out the statutorily required two-week public notice period during which the village accepts comments from area residents about the move. County Corporate Counsel John Lehman attended that meeting asked the village to hold off on any action in order for the parties to sit down – including an unnamed “large corporation” – and hammer out some kind of agreement tied perhaps to Sturtevant’s yard waste recycling center.
After that meeting, though, Lehman told Racine County Eye that because the county has not had the land appraised and the county board has not approved putting the land up for sale, county officials couldn’t respond to the village’s offer.
The blighted property designation does not mean the village automatically owns the land. Instead, it allows village officials to take possession of the parcels if the owner sells them. Development of this land could add as much as $6 million to the village tax rolls.
During the meeting Wednesday, village Attorney Alan Marcuvitz acknowledged the various reasons the land meets the state criteria for a blighted designation:
- The land is predominantly open and includes obsolete platting
- There are or have been several owners of the various parcels in Cobble Court
- There have been little or non-existent site improvements
- The lack of development there substantially impacts the village’s economic development
County Executive Jonathan Delagrave submitted an official objection to the move. Aside from stating the assessed value of $358,000 is well above the village’s offer and could perhaps fetch more on the open market, the letter doesn’t make any specific points to support the objection.
There is mention of how separating the parcels from the remaining 82 plots could “have a detrimental impact on the County’s ability to sell, transfer or otherwise convey the remaining 82 parcels,” but tax records do not indicate that the county owns more than the three parcels in question.
CDA member Kathy Johnson said during the meeting that moving forward with the question of blight was the only way to move forward and address the need for development on the east end of the village.
Village President Steve Jansen agreed.
“This property needs to be put back to productive use. It is time that these parcels begin to generate tax revenue and positively impact the Village’s overall budget for the well being of all of our residents,” he said in a prepared statement issued after the meeting.
The CDA will meet again July 6 with representatives from Ehlers & Associates to begin planning for Sturtevant’s next tax incremental financing district that will almost definitely include the former Cobble Court properties.