A number of residents living in the path of the Foxconn Technology Group development were frustrated with what they felt was a lack of information at an informational meeting in Mount Pleasant Wednesday night.
The official location for the proposed $10 billion LCD display panel factory was announced Oct. 4. That was the first time many Mount Pleasant residents learned their homes sat in the area that would be developed for the factory.
Several residents living in area one, the first area of the project slated for development, said they never received information verbal or written that they would have to sell their home to make way for the factory.
“We still haven’t been officially notified by anyone,” said Kim Mahoney, who lives in area one. Mahoney said she learned her home was in the project area from media reports.
Village sends letter to property owners
Some residents were mailed a letter dated Oct.10 inviting them to a public hearing on proposed amendments to the villages comprehensive land use plan scheduled for Nov. 10. The letter describes changing 127 parcels between Interstate 41/94, Highway H, Highway 11, Highway KR and 90th street to a business park.
But a number said they never received a letter.
Village officials were under confidentiality agreements until the announcement on Oct. 4. The meeting Wednesday was a long time coming and he was excited the residents showed up to learn about the project, DeGroot said.
“The idea obviously is to get out the information as fast as we can,” he said. “
Still, a number residents that stand to lose their home if the factory is built said they learned nothing or very little at the meeting.
Neighbors told eminent domain
Officials from Terra Venture Advisors and GJ Meisbauer and Associates, Inc. — both real estate consultancy firms that specialize in eminent domain — described the general procedure that will occur. The process includes appraisal and negotiation.
Some residents along Braun Road were told in a letter from the Village that their properties were needed for road improvements due to the Foxconn project and the land would be taken through statutory eminent domain procedures.
During the meeting Wednesday, neighbors were told they would receive “fair market price” for their homes.
The village has known for some time they would likely use eminent domain to secure the properties for a planned road improvement project related to the Foxconn project. DeGroot said the village hired an eminent domain expert named James Manchik, “At some time sooner.” But he said he couldn’t remember if the contract was voted on at a village board meeting or not.
All the residents Racine County Eye spoke with were not interested in selling their homes, and unimpressed with the information offered at the meeting.
“There was no information,” said Julia Luxnor.
Village staff and consultants could not offer the property owners timelines for appraisal or vacating their property, other than, that Foxconn expects to break ground on their factory in April 2018.
What’s next? More gridlock
The Village Board was scheduled to vote on a number of contractors at a meeting before the Foxconn information session. But several on the board were unable to attend citing that the meeting was not posted in time for them to get off of work. According to the Village’s website, the notice was posted at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 5, the day after the announcement.
Terra Ventures for Acquisition & Relocation Services and G.J. Miesbauer & Associates, Inc. were among those contractors expected to be approved. But because three of the trustees — Ken Otwaska, Gary Feest and Jon Hansen — weren’t at the meeting. The Board is supposed to have seven members, but has only had six members since May.
“This can happen when trustees fail to confirm 10 nominations for vacant trustee seat,” DeGroot said.
“You’re as confused as I am,” Feest told a room full of Mount Pleasant residents.
Feest said the “whole project” has been coming in bits and pieces from higher up. He said trustees were given limited information in closed session meetings leading up to the announcement.
Meanwhile, the lack of information is compounding the stress of homeowners that will likely lose their homes during the eminent domain process. Some expressed that they feel the village doesn’t have a right to take their home.