Despite some neighbors objecting to losing control over how land is used in Caledonia, the Village Board voted 4 to 2 in favor of striking all references to a neighborhood land use plan it designed in 2006 that used to be included in a 2035 Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
But assurances were made by village staff saying that many of the elements contained in the village-wide plan had already been implemented into the village ordinances, including green space and signage elements. The ultimate reason for taking out the references to the 2006 plan — a document over 2,000 people helped design — the village doesn’t want any more conflicts in interpreting its ordinances like it did several years ago when Walmart wanted to build on 4 Mile and North Green Bay roads.
The 2006 plan was part of the 2035 plan, but the ordinance passed Monday night removes that language. Having the standalone 2035 plan without the 2006 references will now allow for more clarity as developers start looking at developing the newly formed 187-acre industrial park called the DeBack Farm Business Park, staff said.
About 40 people attended the village board meeting to voice their opposition to the village board’s decision to remove the 2006 land use plan from the 2035. Some Caledonia residents want the village’s rural character as it has a number of trails, horse farms and natural recreation areas that many want to remain. Several of the residents had been involved in the planning of the 2006 document, which focused on building a village center around areas once slated to have a train station.
Community fears losing control
The county-wide plan includes nine different planning elements that act as a guide for community and regional development while the Caledonia land use plan written in 2006 was one element that offered more detail for development.
Karl Scheidt, 7325 Foley Rd., argued that even though there had been changes, the 2006 plan should not be thrown out because it is “a representation of the village’s vision.”
“I understand that some thoughts may have changed over time, but those can be addressed as the village has the authority to create your own plans…why would you, the village, want to give up your authority?” He asked.
But Caledonia zoning administrator Julie Anderson explained that her office uses the 2035 plan every single day and other than having different colors used for open space the two documents are essentially the same. Still, one major difference is that in the 2035 plan, Caledonia had already been working on a sewer and water agreement along Interstate 94.
This framework was used recently to identify where the village could put sewer and water lines up along the Interstate, which will like to the DeBack Farm Business Park. But it was not included in the 2006 plan.
“To have competing documents doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Anderson said.
But Anderson explained that a framework still exists for the village to make changes by having the 2035 plan exist as a standalone document and state law mandates public participation through public hearings.
“You are not throwing the baby out with the bathwater… but it’s not just a guide it’s part of the law and when you change it there’s a prescribed process in this book that says you shall have public hearing when you update this plan,” she said.
Protected uses discussed
Fran Martin, who serves on the Caledonia Development Authority, said she was in favor of the industrial park development. However she was concerned with what types of businesses might come into the industrial park because the heavy industrial zoning allows for companies to make explosives, slaughterhouses, animal reduction, tanneries, and several types of chemical manufacturing.
Martin referred to the M-3 zoning designation that DeBack Farms wanted to use, which was cause for concern.
“If you open that door and zone M-3, you can’t close it because… if someone wants to do something that is within the permitted use, you can’t stop it,” Martin said.
But Jerry Franke, of WisPark, explained that plans to restrict the land use through protective covenants attached to the deed that would not allow the uses Martin mentioned. The same type of covenants, which are used to protect the community, were also used in the rest of the developments WisPark did, he said.
“This is an investment… and we don’t want to do anything at this site that would impair this investment,” he said. “We’re not hear to sell for metal buildings. We’re not here to sell for uses that are offensive or create pollution from another source.”