WEST BEND — The city could pay
nearly $3.15 million to buy a swath of rural property off its
southeastern border for a future industrial park — something city
leaders have said West Bend needs but that some neighbors have said
they don’t want.
The Common Council on Monday night approved a purchase agreement
authorizing the city to pay $20,500 an acre for the targeted roughly
153.5-acre plot near the corner of River Road and County Highway NN.
Closing on the sale could take place in January, and Mayor Kraig
Sadownikow noted the final sale price could depend on the land’s
precise acreage, which has yet to be officially platted. The seller,
meanwhile, would keep a small portion of property near the River
Road-County NN intersection.
Jay Shambeau had previously said West Bend would combine
the newly acquired land with a neighboring 63-acre
parcel the city annexed earlier this year. That would
give the city room for a new, roughly 215-acre
industrial park — which Shambeau and other city leaders
have said West Bend badly needs.
“Back in the Great Depression, West Bend was known as
being depression-proof because our moniker at that time
was the ‘city of varied industry,’” Sadownikow said
Monday night. He noted the city now has only a few
“scattered sites” that can accommodate new or expanding
“We really need locations not only to recruit new
businesses, but for our current businesses to grow,” he
said, calling Monday’s purchase agreement a “huge deal”
for West Bend.
Moves to prepare the area for industrial development,
though, have met with pushback from residents of a
nearby subdivision along High Ridge Trail and located
just north of the proposed industrial center.
A few of those residents turned out to protest efforts
earlier this year to zone part of the nearby area for
heavy industrial use. One of them, Eric Weckwerth, was
at Monday’s Common Council meeting and told a reporter
afterward he was concerned about the council’s apparent
“lack of concern” for his neighbors.
“There’s no concern whatsoever for anybody else,” he
said. “I don’t understand the thought process.”
Sadownikow said he understood the neighbors’ worries,
but noted many of their homes already sit near where
several industrial companies already operate. “I’d say
that many of those homes are closer to this exact same
zoning right now than they will be with the new
development,” he said. And he noted the city could take
steps to mitigate future industrial users’ impacts on
the neighborhood as development plans in the future park
Monday’s 19-page purchase agreement notes the city would
inaugurate a new tax incremental financing — or TIF —
district on the property, a move that could incentivize
future developments there.
Plans also call for annexing the property from the
neighboring Town of Trenton — a step city leaders said
could get started as soon as Tuesday but would require
future Common Council approval.
Council members could also act on future zoning and
comprehensive plan changes to mark the land for heavy
industrial uses. Alders already approved similar steps
this year on the nearby 63-acres site.
Sadownikow said there’s an urgency behind the purchase,
given the convoluted series of steps needed to implement
a new TIF district by the time the sale closes next
“It might seem like a long time,” he said of the Jan. 10
closing date, “but it takes some time” to establish a
new TIF zone.