Leaders from Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant have 10 days to salvage a land swap deal or risk losing a potential development that could bring 350 manufacturing jobs and $30 to $50 million in personal property investment.
While Mount Pleasant trustees Tuesday morning directed Administrator Kurt Wahlen to continue negotiations with Sturtevant officials, trustees in that village were having none of it.
“What’s there to negotiate?” board member Chris Larsen asked Tuesday evening at the Sturtevant board meeting. “We operated in the open and in good faith. They have an agreement in front of them, and they need to either accept or reject it.”
At question is a deal Sturtevant trustees July 15 approved a deal that would transfer 66 acres of land into the village in exchange for sewer and water connections for a new business in Mount Pleasant just west of where UNFI is located at Highways 11 and H.
Three parcels make up the 66 acres, but the border between the villages bisects the land. Two of them are already owned by Ashley Capital, the developer who first approached the villages last December. Ashley wants to buy the third parcel, and the agreement would mean the company deals only with one community instead of two.
Last week, though, the deal seemed to fall through when Mount Pleasant Village President Mark Gleason told Sturtevant Village President Steven Jansen and Administrator Mary Cole that the deal was dead.
Tuesday morning the Mount Pleasant board met for the first time about the matter and discussed their options in closed session. When they emerged, the only action they took was to direct Wahlen to continue negotiations.
The rest of the Sturtevant board shared Larsen’s sentiment and held firm even after County Executive Jim Ladwig laid out the facts: without an agreement by Aug. 15, a potential manufacturing tenant who needs 375,000 square feet of space, would initially create 350 jobs and bring $30 to $50 million in personal property taxes to the area will be lost.
“The average person looks at this and says, ‘this is what’s wrong with government,'” he said. “We have to figure this out because I don’t want to read about another development in Kenosha that should have gone here.”
Racine County Eye reached out to Gleason and several other Mount Pleasant board members, and we will update this story when we hear from them. We did reach Gary Feest who said he hopes there’s time to salvage the deal.
“Our options were to let it go or have Kurt try and pull it together,” he said. “The bottom line for me is that this has to be good for the residents of Mount Pleasant, but I do think this can be a win-win for both villages.”