WEST BEND — Common Council
members took a few key steps Monday toward creating an industrial
park on West Bend’s far southeast side despite objections from
nearby residents who said the future development could effectively
encroach on their back yards.
City leaders have said they’re running out of shovel-ready
properties for industrial expansion, making this week’s move to
transform the roughly 63acre parcel of rural land — located just
south of the corner of Rusco and River roads — key to attracting new
businesses or accommodating growing ones.
Council members agreed to permanently zone the area as “heavy
industrial,” as well as change an existing city comprehensive
planning document that previously slated the area for “single-family
residential” use. Both measures are pivotal in allowing for the
sorts of developments city officials someday envision in the area.
Monday’s moves didn’t come without pushback, though, from adjacent
Town of Trenton subdivision homeowners who said an industrial park
near their houses could threaten their property values. One neighbor
on Monday night suggested homeowners could consider a legal
challenge to stop the move.
“If this goes through — against the planning commission’s advice not
to put it through — you’re basically forcing us into the possibility
of only using litigation as our only way out of this,” said Patrick
Falkowski, who lives in the subdivision and who’s previously spoken
out against the industrial zoning. He declined to speak in more
detail with a reporter Monday night about his remarks concerning
Falkowski was referring to a Plan Commission vote earlier this month
that recommended against zoning the property for heavy industrial
use. But Mark Piotrowicz, the city’s development director, reminded
Common Council members the commissioners’ vote was merely advisory
and that they had the final say on the matter.
Council member Chris Jenkins said he understood some of the
neighbors’ concerns, noting in remarks before a vote authorizing the
zoning change Monday that he also lives near industry in West Bend.
“As issues come up — which are, by the way, very, very far in
between — the city has done a great job with handling those issues,”
Jenkins said. But on the other hand, he noted, the city has been
mulling the need to expand its industrial areas “for quite a while.”
“We don’t have enough space for them,” Jenkins said of businesses in
the city that are running out of room to expand.
Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said after the meeting that the city doesn’t
have any specific developments lined up for the future industrial
park. He and others noted the city could take neighbors’ nuisance
concerns into consideration when contemplating permitting specific
businesses to move into the area.
“I fully understand their fears and concerns,” Sadownikow told a
reporter late Monday. “However, this is prime industrial development
property, and our role here is to look out for the future of West
Bend. And we think we can do that — look out for West Bend’s
industrial future — and at the same time be conscientious of