Commission OKs permit for Harbor Freight Tools

Approval that comes after resident expresses concerns clears way for discount tool seller to open in former grocery store
Ozaukee Press staff

On Tuesday, the Village of Grafton Plan Commission approved a conditional use permit for Harbor Freight Tools to come to Grafton.

The business plans to move into a portion of the old Pick ‘n Save located at 1827 Wisconsin Ave. This is steps away from the new Blain’s Farm and Fleet, which is being built in the same complex off Wisconsin Avenue.

Harbor Freight Tools is a discount dealer of generators, drills, hand tools, welding supplies, automotive tools and power tools.

Grafton resident Cassandra Mammel made sure the village was aware residents don’t want to see another hardware store.

“I do not understand why we’re entertaining another hardware store for that area,” Mammel said. “There’s already Ace Hardware across the street and we have Farm and Fleet coming in on the other end of that exact same building. Now we’re going to have another one?”

Mammel believes the development could impact businesses already in Grafton.

“I’ve lived in Grafton for 24 years,” Mammel said. “When we started out we had three grocery stores across the street from each other” and all but the Pick ‘n Save have closed.

Village President and Plan Commission Chairman James Brunnquell said the village can’t regulate the amount of competition businesses face.

“If we said no, that would be illegal,” Brunnquell said. “Anybody has the right to do their due diligence, to do market research and make a business decision on whether or not they wish to choose to do business. We cannot restrict that legally.”

Mammel continued to seek ways to hinder the Harbor Freight Tools development, including the idea of circulating a petition.

Eventually, Mammel suggested picketing the store to deter the business from coming to Grafton.

But Brunnquell said businesses often come in clusters, noting hotels and wholesale stores are often found near each other.

“People say it’s competitive, but it also brings a larger mass of people that support all the businesses,” Brunnquell said. “It’s a proven business model.”

Brunnquell assured residents he understands the concern and will have Mammel’s comments documented. Mammel said while she isn’t happy about the hardware store, at least something is going into the vacant property.

The commission was concerned about the store’s plan for deliveries. Unlike other local businesses, Harbor Freight Tools plans to use a “drop and hook” method of loading. This has trucks dropping their trailers off to be unloaded the next day. Then the trailer will sit there until it is eventually picked up.

Community Development Director Jessica Wolff said the property has increased visibility and this could create an eyesore for residents.

Officials decided Harbor Freight Tools  should plant a series of pine trees behind the building to screen the area.



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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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