Shutdown has a ‘silver lining’ for Port Cedar Vineyard plan

Grant that was to expire, is key to subdivision, nature preserve plan in limbo because of unstaffed agency
Ozaukee Press staff

The federal government shutdown has given the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision planned for Port Washington’s south side a reprieve, at least for now.

Andrew Struck, Ozaukee County director of planning and parks, was working on a last-ditch effort to save a $1 million federal grant that is key to the purchase of Lake Michigan bluff land for the project and the creation of a nature preserve within the development when the government shut down.

But since the shutdown, there’s been no one at the federal level to correspond with, giving Struck additional time to work on the project.

“We’re kind of on hold until the federal government opens up again,” Struck said. “Nothing’s likely to happen until then.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program grant — which is funded through the NOAA, was set to expire on Dec. 31, but Struck has been working to try and extend the grant as negotiations continue on the project.

NOAA officials had requested specific information by the end of 2018, Struck said, but there’s no one to report to.

“It’s maybe one of the few silver linings in the situation,” he said of the shutdown.

The NOAA grant, along with a $1 million stewardship grant awarded to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is a key to the Cedar Vineyard proposal.

The funds are to be used to purchase a 101-acre nature area encompassing the most environmentally sensitive areas of the subdivision, including Cedar Gorge. 

But whether the subdivision comes to be reality is in the air. 

Keith Van De Laarschot, a commercial banker with Waukesha State Bank, which owns the land, said recently that Swarthout does not have an accepted offer to purchase the 227-acre property and continues to market it.

Struck said late last year that negotiations between prospective buyer Tom Swarthout of the Highview Group, which has proposed the Cedar Vineyard subdivision, and Waukesha State Bank are at an impasse.

He said last week that Swarthout is looking to obtain financial documents needed for the purchase of the 227-acre parcel.

The preserve is a key component of the Cedar Vineyard development, which would include 82 half-acre lots surrounded by a vineyard along Highway C and a winery on the west side of Highway C south of Stonecroft Drive.

The plan is to have the Highview Group purchase the entire parcel from Waukesha State Bank and almost immediately sell the preserve land to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

The Land Trust would then transfer the preserve to Ozaukee County, which would hold it in perpetuity.


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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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