PRESS EDITORIAL: The next development hot spot . . . Knellsville?

Arrested development. Those two words summarize the modern history of Knellsville. The place called Knellsville has faded so much in significance that it is likely some people reading this don’t know where it is. It is just across I-43 from the City of Port Washington’s main north-side intersection of Wisconsin Street and Seven Hills Road, but its location beside the freeway hasn’t brought it prominence or prosperity. On the contrary, the freeway had the effect of cutting off Knellsville from development, in part because of the difficulty it presented to extending city water and sewer utilities. This unincorporated hamlet in the Town of Port Washington was once a small but fairly active center of commerce, with taverns, a store, restaurant and a feed mill and, in the first half of the 20th century, two successful industrial operations, the Pauly Cheese Co. and the Knellsville Canning Co. All of that is gone. Still, 21st-century Knellsville has something valuable going for it—a wealth of potential. It could be—and should be—the next hot spot for industrial and commercial development in the Port Washington area. The town government prepared for that eventuality in 2006 with a plan that designates nearly 200 acres in the area now defined as Knellsville for business buildings. All it needs to get going is access to city utilities. It is in the city’s interest as much as the town’s to make that happen sooner rather than later. The Town Board dusted off the plan recently when it was asked to approve construction of storage sheds in Knellsville near the Town Hall. This is not the type of development town officials had in mind when the master plan was drawn. The town needs to aspire to higher development goals than additional storage sheds. Already, storage seems be the leading industry after farming in a town that is the home of what appears to be more of these units per capita than in any nearby community. Think office and commercial buildings and industrial plants instead. These could be realities if the city proceeds with the northside tax incremental finance district it is considering to fund the extension of municipal services. That move would open new avenues for economic growth. The city’s southside industrial park has little such potential. Awkwardly placed in a jig-saw puzzle of land use, it encroaches on land pegged for upscale residential development to the south and is just a stone’s throw from the massive lake bluff subdivision where houses, condos and business buildings will soon rise, contributing significant traffic pressure to the area. The Knellsville land, now mostly used for farming, not only is free of those drawbacks, but offers virtually instant access to I-43. Though the land is in the Town of Port and tax base growth would logically accrue to the town, some conflict with the city over jurisdiction might be expected when this land is developed. Hopefully, this would be eased by the 2004 border agreement that specifies that city annexation of town territory could only be done by mutual agreement. More important than the tax revenue will be the economic benefits for all of Port Washington—both the town and city—when the arrested development of Knellsville is finally freed.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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