Plan for sprawling subdivision hits a sewer snag

Board’s rejection of proposal frustrates Stonewall Farms developer who says project could be delayed
By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Stonewall Farms residential development in the Village of Grafton hit a snag this week when the Board of Public Works voted down a sewer system plan for the neighborhood.

The first portion of the subdivision was approved in September 2021, but trustees expressed concerns over how sewer infrastructure will be managed for the development. The project is divided into three phases and will bring an additional 350 housing units to the village in single and shared homes.

The subdivision, being developed by Bob Tillman, will be bordered by Highway 60 to the south, West Cedar Creek Road to the north, Keup Road to the west and Green Valley Road to the east, on what is currently agricultural land.

Sewer infrastructure was discussed in early planning portions of the development but when Tillman submitted a detailed proposal for the plan, Board of Public Works members held a special meeting Monday to discuss it.

Early plans had a portion of the sewer system running south and a portion running north, but the most recent plan had the entire system running north.

For sewer to be run to the north, several thousands of feet of new pipe would need to be laid, extensive upgrades would need to be made to the Ninth and 11th Avenue lift stations and large portions of existing sewer line would have to be upgraded. Most of the sewer line would also be installed under a wetland area, which requires permission from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the village would have to acquire easement on portions of the land and the area may present maintenance challenges for utility staff members.

Running sewer to the south would require the installation of a new lift station and upgrades to another lift station.

While the developer will finance the majority of infrastructure costs, the village will be responsible for long-term maintenance of the utilities.

Director of Public Works Amber Thomas said the developer’s plan alleviates the need for an additional lift station but that sending sewer to the north would require lines to be laid very deep with minimal slope.

While recommending the developer’s plan, Thomas said, it is the only plan village staff members have seen and that she would be more comfortable saying it was the best option if there was more time to consider alternatives.

She added that she was advised by the village’s engineering consultant that long-term maintenance of a new lift station would be more of a financial burden than other options.

Board member Les Blum said he doesn’t understand why the sanitary lines would be sent to the north since that requires more pipe to be laid and easements to be acquired that may be difficult to maintain. He said while the developer would cover costs up front, it may cost the village more in long term maintenance costs.

“To me it looks like it’s going to cost us a lot more money taking the sewer from the north,” he said.

Having received the plan just days before the meeting, Blum said, more time should be allowed to consider what costs would be to install sewer lines to the south.

“Nobody has really looked at the cost of these two alternatives,” he said.

Tillman said going north is the best option because it would not require a new lift station, something that would save the village in maintenance costs.

“If you can go gravity feed, you always try to go gravity feed,” he said.

He also noted sewer would be run through the wetland because it has the lowest elevation in the area and that he would create paths to manholes so utility staff members could easily access them.

Board member Tom Krueger motioned to accept the sewer plans, but the motion failed 3-2.

Tillman questioned the decision, saying it could delay the development, which is slated to begin soon.

“You’ve seen this plan for eight months already and you’re coming up with this now when we have a contract awarded?” he said. “You’re going to be open to a lawsuit, I can guarantee that right now.”

The matter will be discussed again at the Feb. 14, Board of Public Works meeting.

Community Development Director Jessica Wolff said while there are concerns regarding access with the developer’s sewer proposal, some sewer access to the north will be needed one way or another.

“It’s not feasible to have more than a third of it go to the south. Really our only option is to go to the north,” she said.

 

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