Town rethinking it’s agriculture-first plan

Official says some commercial development may help deal with state taxing limits at time of high inflation
Ozaukee Press staff

Chairman Kevin Kimmes wants the Town of Saukville to consider a more commerical approach as it updates its comprehensive plan. Approval to begin these conversations was granted by the Town Board and Plan Commission this month.

“The comprehensive plan the county produced for us is gigantic,” Town Chairman Kevin Kimmes said. “(Cedar Corp.) found some blurb on page 587 when most plans are 125 pages or less. It was really robust because the county received grant funds that helped (create a) really robust plan. I also think their maps are not as clear and concise.”

Josh Miller, the town’s consultant through Cedar Corp., said the state requires the town to revisit the comprehensive plan every 10 years in some fashion, but doesn’t regulate how extensive that revisit needs to be.

Plan Commission members recently studied the comprehensive plan when deciding if Fine Line Carpentry Co-owner Nick Suddendorf’s proposal for a zoning change from agriculture to commercial in an effort to build “business barns” for small businesses to operate their businesses out of.

Suddendorf’s efforts were stalled by a 3-3 Plan Commission vote in July. Kimmes voted against the zoning change because he didn’t want to open the door to a manufacturing company, which he thought was included in commercial zoning. After the tied vote, Miller revisited the comprehensive plan and discovered that manufacturing is not included in commercial zoning. This information was hundred of pages deep and had it been more accessible, the vote could have gone a different direction, Kimmes said earlier this summer.

The town is now exploring planned unit developments with Suddendorf, which isn’t reflected in the current comprehensive plan, but is something the town is entertaining to incorporate. Due to the complexity of the current comprehensive plan, a simplified version is appealing to Kimmes and other plan commission members.

Kimmes said updating the plan also opens the door to re-imagining the town’s future. The Town of Saukville has historically embraced its agricultural charm, as shown by Kimmes’ original skepticism toward Suddendorf’s proposed development in June, but plan commission members commented on the appeal of increased income from commercial taxes that would  emerge from Suddendorf’s proposed “business barns.”

“I also think it’s gonna be a good exercise to say, ‘Do we still think agriculture 100% of the time or not,’ and to ask our constituents that question,” Kimmes said.

While former Gov. Scott Walker was in office, he put a limit on how much municipalities can raise property taxes. The consequences of Walker’s policy makes Kimmes believe increased revenue from commercial entities would help keep up with demands.

“We now have the Scott Walker limit on how much we can raise taxes by and it’s hard to even (work) on the roads we have,” Kimmes said.

Critics of Walker’s levy limits say these restrictions make it difficult for municipalities and school districts to keep up with high inflation rates. Currently the inflation rate is at 8.5%, according to the United States Department of Labor Statistics, but last year municipalities could not increase tax levies by more than 5%, according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

The comprehensive plan update will cost the town approximately $39,751.24, which Kimmes said he wants to have spanned over two fiscal years. He said this would help alleviate any financial burden since the project’s expense won’t be taken out of a singular annual budget, but rather split between two.

Phase one actions will commence in October 2022, according to the comprehensive plan update proposal presented by Miller, with developing meeting schedules, a public participation plan and reviewing elements needed for an accurate depiction of the town, such as demographics.

Miller proposed incorporating public input on the project with the town’s values in mind, which Plan Commission members said was a good idea, especially member Tom Ravn who remembers the last comprehensive plan update.

“I can remember once upon a time when they presented the current plan … it was a mob. There was so much backlash,” Ravn said. “There were certain elements that some people liked and certain elements other people didn’t like. It set the whole process back and it had to go back and we had to do quite a bit of work.”

Miller proposed public engagement options that would include having Cedar Corp. staff attend six Plan Commission meetings to hear input provided during its “public comment” section, press releases, public hearings, mailings and a final public hearing and presentation.



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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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