This letter to the editor was written by Sue Schuit.
To my knowledge there were NO inconsistencies concerning Walmart as stated in both the recent RCE article and the Journal Times article. The zoning within the Racine County 2035 Plan and the 2006 Land Use Plan were identical.
The problems lie in the details, which were the neighborhood plans. Simply put, the neighborhood plans were a reflection of the opinions and desires of the Caledonia citizens. That was a large part of the argument with Walmart. The proposed Walmart Supercenter necessitated rezoning from Residential to Commercial. For those that remember, some members of the original neighborhood work groups reconvened and agreed that this proposal did not fit with the intentions of the neighborhood plans – thus reiterating one of the many, many concerns regarding the inappropriateness of the site for the proposal.
Recently it was stated that there may be litigation concerns regarding the contradictions in the two plans. There were some concerned citizens who worried about the buzzword “litigation”. It was the natural assumption that litigation could/would have been on the part of the company (Walmart and perhaps the new TID developer, Wispark) taking issue with the Village of Caledonia.
Could it be that our concerns regarding litigation were actually the reverse? Could the litigation concerns expressed actually be on the part of the citizens/residents of Caledonia against the Village of Caledonia/developers? The issues with Walmart were long, very involved and arduous – Walmart lawyers were engaged and participatory in every step of such process. I do not believe for one minute that one of the largest corporations in the world, and their legal team, would have missed any legal misstep in the process nor hesitated to use to their advantage.
The desires of the citizens are not reflected in the current composition of the business park. The information we are receiving says that the Wispark development will be huge. It will be zoned M-3, the least obstructive manufacturing zoning. There are no real protections to prohibit use, other than Wispark’s own covenants (a “trust us” approach if you will).
And for those of you stating tax revenue relief, REMEMBER, a TID does not realize such until the loan is paid – most common time period being 20-25 years. The 2006 neighborhood plans called for a small village center and an attractive gateway going into Caledonia from I-94 for the area. The 2006 Land Use Plan contains 11 subareas within such area.
That will not now happen. Therefore could the concern regarding litigation be from the residents to the village and Wispark as it is contrary to the neighborhood plans and desires of the CITIZENS? I personally believe that litigation would not have a great deal of merit but it would certainly create some very negative publicity – something Caledonia, I would imagine, is certainly not eager to receive – particularly for this area.
Simple conclusion, toss the 2006 plan reflecting the work, hours of input, volunteers, opinions, desires of the citizens and UW study – as well as the grant money which allowed for the professionals. And do it quick before anyone figures it out.
If this possibility is correct it is doubly disturbing. If my opinion contains even a wee bit of truth, the Village is seeking protection from itself – the very citizens they are representing.
The truth as we know it is this. The proposal to toss the 2006 Land Use Plan came out of the blue. In my opinion I do not believe the Planning Commission received proper time or enough information to research this proposal. In my opinion, the Caledonia Village Board was unsure of what they were voting for or against.
And another question no one seems to be able to answer or address. What happens to the agreement with Raymond which specifically references the 2006 Land Use Plan? Tossing the plan would in my opinion leave a gaping hole in the Raymond contract. Again, there appears to be no answer regarding the next step for such.
As I have asked many times of the Caledonia Village Board, various staff and the Community Development Authority, is it not time to, at the least, check in with citizens of Caledonia and ask us what we want to see regarding our village’s future vision, direction and planning? Ten years ago we cherished the green space, the rural character and the beauty. We wanted smart and proactive growth which enhanced, not destroyed the character of Caledonia. Perhaps in 10 years our opinions have changed – but I somehow doubt it.
But is it not time to ask ALL OF US the questions, obtain the answers and use such information to proceed with careful consideration, deliberation, professionalism and strategic vision?
Sue Schuit, Caledonia resident