It’s official: Village nixes business park on town land

Village president confirms decision abandoning proposal to annex, develop 114 acres
Ozaukee Press staff

Grafton Village President Jim Brunnquell officially announced on Monday that the village will not pursue plans to develop a business park on 114 acres currently in the Town of Grafton.

“Although no formal action is needed, I believe closure is needed for the proposed business park project,” Brunnquell said, reading from a prepared statement during the Village Board meeting Monday, March 5. 

“The proposed business park, however viable it may have been, would have been a project that would have created a rift in community relations.”

Opposition to the proposal surfaced after the village hired MLG Commercial, a real estate firm, to develop farmland at the northwest corner of Highway C and Ulao Road.

The village was seeking to annex the land from the town and have the property rezoned from agricultural to a planned industrial district. 

On Feb. 14, the Town Board unanimously approved a resolution objecting to the proposal, stating the land is not contiguous to the village’s boundary for commercial, industrial and business use and calling the plan a “balloon on a string” annexation.

The village has annexed approximately 800 acres from the town during the last several decades, but Town Chairman Lester Bartel said this was the first time the town has formally objected to a proposed annexation.

The village would have been responsible for infrastructure improvements for the project and planned to create a tax incremental financing district to pay for the work. 

The potential impact of the business park on the Grafton School District also sparked opposition from town and village residents. Offices and factories built on what is seen as prime residential land would do little to bring additional children into the district and increase revenue under the school funding formula, they said.

In addition, the school district would not have realized the increased value of the business park’s land until the TIF district was retired in 20 years.

According to a feasibility study, the village’s cost of preparing the site for the business park would have been $8.9 million financed through the TIF district. The development would have generated an estimated $13 million in property tax revenue after 20 years.

The village already contracted with three firms for financial, engineering and public relations services for the project, which would have totaled $274,900.

According to village officials, the companies will be paid for the work they have completed so far but not be paid in full. Brunnquell said the timing of the decision to shelve the business park plans was to save the village from incurring any more costs.

No official word has been given if the village will pursue finding a new location for a business park.

“The village and town share a brand and a logo. We have stated numerous times that Grafton is a community without boundaries,” Brunnquell said.

“While we represent our respective constituents, we must take into account the impact of our decisions on the fabric of the community we call Grafton. It’s only natural that the concerns of the surrounding neighborhoods be considered.

“At the end of the day, listening is what we’re elected to do. The Village Board listened and acted in the best interest of the community of Grafton.”



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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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