Nothing they can do
Cedarburg Town Board gets earful on Grafton subdivision

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Staff

Nov. 21, 2017

CEDARBURG — Almost three dozen residents of Cedarton Estates received a lesson in state government last week, and it was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.

The subject? The proposed plans for turning the 80-acre Kohlwey farm into a new subdivision.

“This is something that Grafton’s village board and Grafton’s Plan Commission will vote on,” said Cedarburg Town Administrator Tim Rhode. “This board never will. We can listen to your concerns, we can express our opinion to the village, but when it comes down to it, this decision is not ours to make.”

“You can definitely talk to us, and we can certainly sympathize with you, but we can’t do anything,” said Supervisor Tom Esser. “The first part of what you need to do is in getting the message to the village of Grafton, the second part is getting them to understand your position. I don’t necessarily think it’s that you don’t want development, but that you have definite concerns about what is being proposed.”

Towne Realty is proposing to create a new subdivision that would include 91 single-family lots and 25 duplex lots. The land is currently in the town of Cedarburg; for the project to move forward, it will need to be annexed into the village of Grafton.

“If the land is contiguous to an incorporated municipality and is in an unincorporated municipality, it is legally their land to annex,” explained Rhode. “The property owner is able to pursue this and does not need the town’s approval.”

Cedarton residents expressed a number of concerns with both the annexation and the proposed project itself. The most significant one was the safety impact of adding the ingress and egress for the subdivision to the existing Keup Road entrance for Cedarton Estates.

Residents in attendance voiced numerous safety concerns, including the fact that an emergency situation occurring at the intersection would conceivably block the residents’ only exit point for both subdivisions.

“Someone has concluded that this access is acceptable,” said Supervisor Gary Wickert, who questioned whether residents had hired a lawyer, specifically someone specializing in municipal law.

Supervisors also noted that Highway 60 is a state-managed road, and with the intersection already improved by traffic lights, the DOT is not likely to suggest further changes. Additionally, they added that the DOT is not likely to have an interest in adding additional access points along Highway 60.

“We can write a letter to the village and it will be stamped ‘received,’ and we can write a letter to the DOT and it will be laughed at,” said Wickert.

Town residents did stress concerns with fire and safety issues and whether or not the town would have any contribution in the annexation discussion, since half of Keup Road would still be the town’s responsibility. Should upgrades be required at a later date, they also questioned if the town would be financially responsible for half of the cost. Town officials did note that they would be discussing some of these issues with the town attorney.

While the town lacks the authority to prevent an annexation or request a modification of the proposed development plan, the supervisors and Rhode were sympathetic to the residents’ concerns and suggested possible means for voicing opposition to the project, which residents complained appeared fast-tracked, with the project’s return to the village Plan Commission scheduled for December and possible Village Board approval after that.

<<EARLIER: 141 new residences proposed for Grafton