Business park dead
Objections far outweighed support

By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff

Feb. 27, 2018

GRAFTON The village of Grafton is backing off from the 114-acre business park proposal thats been under discussion the past six weeks.

Plans for an industrial business park were first introduced publicly during the Jan. 15 Grafton Village Board meeting. MLG, a commercial real estate and development firm, proposed the development for property off Ulao Road and Highway C. The land is currently in the town, not directly adjacent to the village.

The plans MLG and the village began discussing last month included MLG purchasing the land, and the village annexing the property and establishing a tax incremental finance district for the business park to fund millions of dollars in infrastructure for the development. In TIF districts, property taxes collected for new development within the district stay within the district to fund development, rather than going to the normal taxing authorities, such as school districts or the county.

On Friday, Village President Jim Brunnquell confirmed that the village is stepping away from the project. He has commented several times previously that he was not convinced about the site chosen for the business park and that particular land use there, as well as saying Grafton both the village and town is a community without borders.

I think we made the right decision to step away, Brunnquell said.

Over the past several weeks, there has been consistent objections to the proposed development from many town residents. Their concerns revolved largely around the loss of a location that could be prime residential real estate and the impact a large business park could have on the traffic, safety and value of the surrounding area.

Its about communities working together, Brunnquell said. A Facebook page and online petition for town residents were formed opposing the development. The Grafton Town Board also passed a resolution formally opposing village intent to annex the 114-acre parcel.

Were very pleased to hear that (the village is not proceeding), Town Chairman Lester Bartel said Friday.

We want to express our appreciation to Jim (Brunnquell), the board and the entire village staff for taking a second look at it, and acting in the best interest of the entire community.

There was also an online petition for village residents to sign objecting to the proposed use of TIF districting in the business park plan. Because TIF districts hold property within the district separate from the rest of the tax roll, they provide no relief to tax districts in general.

For the village, some money has already been spent on the project. A firm was hired for survey and engineering work to determine what improvements would be needed for village infrastructure for the project, as well as a financial consultant to lay groundwork for the TIF.

Representatives from MLG did not return calls for comment from the News Graphic.

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