Jul 28, 2014

City Interested in BP Land, But Don't Bet on a Sale

Indicating interest is not the same as an offer to purchase, mayor stresses, but others on council say the land at the corner of Lannon Drive and Janesville Road should remain with the county.

City Interested in BP Land, But Don't Bet on a Sale

Waukesha County currently owns the site where the once stood at Janesville Road and Lannon Drive, and has approached the city to see if it would be interested in purchasing the land.

City Planner Jeff Muenkel proposed the idea to the Finance Committee in a memo in which he stated possibilities for the land, including reselling the property at a later date, and leaving the property open with an eye to the overall streetscaping plan for Janesville Road.

No terms were given for a potential sale, but Muenkel indicated that previous similar circumstances resulted in a symbolic transaction of $1.

While the price could be right, council members weren't so eager to jump at the chance to purchase property.

"Why would the city get involved in the purchase of this land, only to sell it?" asked Alderman Dan Soltysiak.

Alderman Rob Wolfe cited similar concerns, adding that the city might assume risk if the property has any soil contamination because of its former use. A DNR study of the site considered it clean, however Muenkel admitted there could still be fuel products in the soils under the site.

However, Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti stressed that a resolution presented to the council only indicated interest on the city's part, and not an offer to purchase the land.

"These are all valid points, and should we get to that point, more information will be needed," she said. "This is not an offer to purchase and we aren't committing ourselves to anything by this. It's just a 'Yeah, we might be interested' type of measure."

Chiaverotti also said that the county is more focused on road construction and perhaps wouldn't maintain the property as well as if the city had possession of it. In addition, she said the real estate market is down, so the county wouldn't be likely to be motivated to sell the property anytime soon to a commercial business.

It was also felt that the city's Community Development Authority would be best suited to provide the mechanism for a sale of the land, and should be involved if negotiations get more serious between the county and the city.

The council ultimately voted to approve the measure on a 4-2 vote , with aldermen Dan Soltysiak and Robert Wolfe opposing. Should further development on a deal come about, the matter would still have to come back to the council.

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