Closing on Cedar Vineyard, preserve land set for Friday

Port council gives administrator authority to sign deal that clears way for subdivision, public nature area along bluff

    The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday approved a resolution that paves the way for developer Tom Swarthout to purchase the land for the Cedar Vineyard subdivision.
    The resolution allows City Administrator Mark Grams to sign any necessary papers on the city’s behalf at the closing, which is scheduled to take place Friday, Dec. 22, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said.
    “Talk about a Christmas present for the community,” Mayor Tom Mlada said.
    The deal is one officials have called a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to preserve 100 acres of environmentally sensitive land and ensure public access to the lakefront and bluffs amid a development with single-family houses, a vineyard and winery
    The council’s action is only one of several taking place this week to accommodate the purchase of the land for the subdivision.
    On Thursday, Dec. 21, the Plan Commission is expected to approve a revised certified survey map for the subdivision — something Grams called a “minor language tweak.”
    Swarthout, president of the Highview Group, will be at the Plan Commission meeting to collect the  documents, which he needs for the Friday closing, Grams said.
    “It looks like it (the closing) is actually going to happen,” Eberhardt told the Council.
    It’s been almost three years since the Cedar Vineyard development was first proposed for a 227-acre parcel that straddles Highway C on Port Washington’s southeast side.
    The land, once slated for a high-density subdivision by VK Development, is now expected to become anything but that.
    Swarthout plans to create 82 half-acre lots on the land, with a vineyard planned along Highway C and a winery on the west side of Highway C south of Stonecroft Drive.
    A 101-acre nature preserve will also be created that encompasses Cedar Gorge and roughly 150 feet of land along the Lake Michigan bluff.
    This property, which is referred to as the Cedar Heights-Clay Banks Nature Area, will be acquired by the Highview Group and within minutes sold to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, which has received grants to cover the $2 million purchase price, then transferred to Ozaukee County, which will hold the land in perpetuity.
    The City of Port Washington has put in place a tax incremental financing district to help pay for the extension of utilities to the property.
    The winery and vineyard will be run by Steve and Maria Johnson, who own Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery in Kewaunee and Door 44 Winery in Sturgeon Bay.
    Swarthout has said a dozen prospective homeowners have reserved lots in the subdivision.



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