Delafield Prestwick hearings canceled
City, company officials clash over deadlines

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 10, 2017

DELAFIELD — City officials and representatives of the Prestwick Group are giving conflicting accounts of the circumstances that led to Mayor Michele DeYoe’s decision to cancel three public hearings scheduled for Dec. 20 about plans to develop a corporate/light industrial campus near the Interstate-94/Hwy. C interchange.

City officials say that Prestwick failed to meet a Dec. 5 deadline for submitting documents necessary for the public hearings and the mayor was following long-established policies when she canceled the hearing.

Prestwick officials say they were “blindsided” by the mayor’s decision and were working to meet the unanticipated deadline when she canceled the hearings.

Meanwhile, City Attorney James Hammes has acknowledged the possibility that approval of Prestwick’s plans might require affirmative votes from six of the city’s seven Common Council members.

The “super majority” might be required if 20 percent of property owners living within 100 feet of the proposed development site file a petition with the city objecting to a proposed zoning change on a portion of the land, according to Hammes.

Prestwick is proposing to develop a 63,000-square foot light assembly plant, a similar- sized corporate headquarters, and a large barn that will be part of an outdoor gathering center for corporate and community events on 28 acres of land along Indian Spring Road, near the interchange.

Prestwick uses recycled materials to manufacture outdoor furnishings and equipment. Company officials had said they have outgrown their facilities in Sussex.

However, for the project to be approved, the Common Council must vote to create a special development district, approve changes in the zoning code and long-range land use plan, and approve a conditional use permit, according to a recent opinion issued by Hammes.

Prestwick Vice President Tyler Morse admits being frustrated with the mounting regulatory requirements.

“I will admit that sometimes I have been frustrated and have scratched my head wondering why are we doing this,” he said “Then I remind myself that we are trying to create a wonderful place for our employees to work that will also benefit the city,” he added.

“I don’t blame Prestwick,” said Laura Schult, who has opposed the project along with a group of her neighbors who live near the development site. Schult and her neighbor Lyn Holton repeatedly complained during Plan Commission meetings in October and November that Prestwick had failed to file required documents and the city was trying to “fast track” approval of the project.

City officials apparently believed the required documents were contained in materials that Prestwick had filed earlier in the year in support of the project.

However, they later learned the required documents had not been submitted, according to Hammes.

“What citizens had repeatedly tried to point out to the Plan Commission about the missing documents was correct, and I am glad the city has finally verified that,” Holton told The Freeman.

City planner's account

City Planner Roger Dupler told The Freeman that he had a telephone conversation with Prestwick about the needed documents following a Nov. 29 Plan Commission meeting.

Dupler said he emailed Prestwick a list of the required documents on Monday, Dec. 4 that needed to be filed by Tuesday, Dec. 5 so the city could prepare public notices of the hearings on Wednesday.

Dupler said Morse contacted him late Monday and asked for more time to submit the documents.

Dupler said he told Morse the documents had to be filed by the start of business at City Hall Wednesday morning.

DeYoe said when she discovered the documents had not been submitted on time, she canceled the hearings.

Prestwick veep’s account

Morse said he was not contacted by Dupler until Monday about the documents, which gave the company less than 24 hours to prepare and submit them.

Morse said he contacted Dupler and asked for more time.

Morse said Dupler told him the documents should be submitted by Wednesday but never warned him the hearings could be canceled.

Morse said he was in the process of printing the last document when he was informed of the mayor’s decision.

“I felt like I had been blindsided,” he told The Freeman.

Morse said he appealed to the mayor, but she told him the company had failed to meet the deadlines and the hearings must be canceled.

DeYoe said she sympathized with Prestwick.

“It was a perfect storm of things that did not get done on time,” she said.