15 Sep 2014
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Walmart Spurs Village Plan Revamp

The Caledonia Plan Commission and a land use plan work group will tackle the zoning of the tract of land where Walmart is proposing a supercenter.

Residents have until March 8 to submit applications to be part of the work group that will look into whether or not the village should rezone land where Walmart wants to build.

Members of the village's Planning Commission Wednesday unanimously approved the re-creation of the 2006 land use work group that focused on the Village Center concept for that corner. The group and the commission will work together to reconcile the differences in the village's comprehensive plan and the county's overlay plan.

But, the group is only open to those who live and/or own a business within the Village Center area, which runs, roughly, along Douglas Avenue and 4-Mile Road. So, any new members would have to come from within these boundaries.

The work is needed because of discrepancies between a village and county plan for what kind of development should take place at the intersection of 4 Mile and Green Bay roads, where Walmart wants to build. 

Walmart has submitted an application to build a 182,000 square foot supercenter on the southeast corner of that intersection. The store would be similar to the one on Durand Avenue in Mount Pleasant. To make way for construction, however, Caledonia's land use plan and the county's overlay plan should match, and they do not.

The land where Walmart wants to build is currently zoned for urban residential and light industrial or office use, but is located in an area the land use plan designates for high- and medium-density residential land use. Walmart is asking for the land use and zoning to be reconciled, and identified for commercial use.

"We have to balance the rights of property owners in that area and the property owner (represented) by Walmart as well as the rights of the village as a whole and residents as a whole, too," said Village Administrator Mark Janiuk. "We can’t delay a decision, so we tried to develop a plan that would balance all the interests described." 

The plan Janiuk created with Village Attorney Elaine Ekes is to re-create the 2006 group that originally worked on the comprehensive plan for the area and have the group work with commission members to hammer out the best use for the land. 

This plan comes with a timetable and deadlines so, Janiuk said, there's movement without long delays. He suggested meetings begin as early as March 13, but Elaine Radwanski and Bill Folk were concerned about filling vacancies for workgroup members who may be unavailable for whatever reason.

"I was surprised at the idea to reconvene the original group," Radwanski said. "But maybe we ask for two volunteers who are engaged from the neighborhood because residents shouldn’t feel shut out."

Deb Tomcyzk, one of Walmart's attorneys, asked that their representatives also be included in the process. Since there is an option to buy the land where the supercenter would go, company reps act as agents for the seller and can submit an application to be part of the work group.

Ekes suggested the commission immediately begin accepting letters of interest from residents—including area business owners—to join the workgroup so that if an original member from the 2006 group couldn't serve, there wouldn't be much lag time in finding a replacement. Commission members agreed.

The commission also agreed to have the village contact 2006 group members right away and to meet again for a special Planning Commission meeting on March 13 to go through applications and choose the needed replacements.

From there, they will create a schedule so that a recommendation from the new work group, with the Planning Commission, comes back to the commission sometime this spring. The next step would then be to pass a recommendation to the Village Board, and trustees would then schedule a final public hearing before voting the plan up or down.

Caledonia will save some money this time around by not hiring an outside planning consultant as they did in 2006 for $300,000. Instead, the larger work group will rely on Janiuk, Ekes, Julie Anderson from the planning department at Racine County, and other staff members as needed.

Residents who are interested in participating in the work group have until March 8 to get their letter of interest to Village Clerk Kari Torkilsen at Village Hall.

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