Is the time right for Knellsville development?

Town officials to meet with landowners to discuss amending plan for area, ushering in new era of growth
Ozaukee Press staff

The Town of Port Washington Plan Commission will meet with the owners of property in the Knellsville area next month before deciding whether to amend its master plan for the area.

Commission members agreed on that strategy last week after hearing that Steve Jentges wants to build storage sheds in the heart of the Knellsville district — something that would require a change in the plan.

“Do we want to reopen this can of worms?” Town Chairman Jim Melichar, chairman of the commission, asked, noting that it took town officials years to create the current Knellsville plan.

The question is especially relevant now, Supr. Mike Didier said, because there are a number of vacant properties or parcels on the market and the City of Port Washington is considering a north-side tax incremental financing district that could bring water service to the town’s doorstep.

“There’s a possibility a lot of things could go on in the next year,” said Didier, a real estate agent and member of the commission, as he rattled off a list of properties on the market.

“You can look at this and say now’s the time to change (the plan) because things are happening, or you can say now’s not the time to change because things are going to happen.”

 But Town Planner Christy DeMaster warned that even if the city brings water to the edge of the township, it may be cost prohibitive to extend the service into Knellsville.

“How much is it going to cost to get it here and are you going to have a large enough group of people to make it worthwhile?” she asked.

Because of that, Didier said, the town may have to look at creating a plan for the Knellsville area with and without municipal water.

Regardless, the town needs to look ahead and make sure its plan will fit the area as it develops, officials said.

Currently, the Knellsville area is zoned for various types of businesses typically found in a town center.

“When we did it (the zoning), the property owners were all excited,” Melichar said. 

But not much has happened since the Knellsville district was created, and people’s views may have changed, he noted.

Melichar suggested the commission, along with a representative of Ozaukee Economic Development, sit down with landowners in the Knellsville area and see what their plans are and what they would like to see happen.

“We want to make sure they’re aware of everything here,” Didier added.

That’s an important step, commission member Chuck Baranek said.

“They’re looking at their retirement. They’re not looking for something 20, 30 years from now,” he said.

Getting Ozaukee Economic Development involved is important as well, Melichar said, noting the agency can help steer potential development to the town.

DeMaster noted that the town can also see if landowners might be interested in joining forces to see if their parcels could be combined and sold for a larger development.

The town has taken a step toward consolidating some property, reaching an agreement to buy two parcels next to the Town Hall on Highland Drive. While one parcel is earmarked for expansion of the town’s recycling operation, the other will initially be rented out with an eye to someday sell it for redevelopment.

Where storage facilities come into play will likely be part of the discussion, officials said, since Jentges has made his request.

“They’re going up everywhere,” Didier said.

The commission has tentatively set a Wednesday, June 6, date for its meeting with the Knellsville landowners.


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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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