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Foxconn land appraisals could start this month

MOUNT PLEASANT — Some property owners who have land in the area targeted for the Foxconn development could begin seeing appraisals for their land by the Village of Mount Pleasant at the end of the month.

On Tuesday, the village held informational sessions over three hours to answer questions from people who have property directly fronting Braun Road, Highway H or International Drive, which will be widened to accommodate the increased traffic.

Jim Machnik, an acquisition consultant working for the village, said the village Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the road construction on Thursday. If that’s approved by the commission, the matter would be forwarded to the Village Board, which could give its seal of approval on Nov. 20.

“When (construction is) approved by the village, then we can start the appraisal process in connection with these three projects,” Machnik said. “It is our goal that we will be able to negotiate a settlement with each property owner for the acquisition of their property … most likely closings for these properties will be done late February, late March, somewhere in that period.”

During that process, the property owners can obtain independent appraisals, the costs of which will be reimbursed by the village, Machnik said.

“The same process will occur for the rest of the projects that are involved with this job and there will be a hearing similar to what we have here today for every project that goes online,” Machnik said.

Machnik added that a relocation plan needs to be approved by the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which will evaluate the deal property owners are getting.

The relocation plan has to be approved by the state before any acquisitions by the village can take place.

For those being displaced or having to move property as a result of the land acquisition, Machnik said the village will reimburse any moving costs or will subsidize residents “to a certain point” for those who may need to move to a temporary location before moving to their permanent location.

Miller Park-like traffic

When the Foxconn facility becomes fully staffed, there’s no doubt that it will add congestion to the local roadways during the shift changes from 6 to 7 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m.

John Bieberitz, of Traffic Analysis and Design Inc., who is working with the village, said the roads are going to be widened to handle traffic that is similar to the area around Miller Park after a Milwaukee Brewers game.

“The game ends at 4 or 5 o’clock, you have anywhere between 4,000 to 7,000 vehicles leaving Miller Park, that’s what this is going to be,” Bieberitz said. “It’s going to be about 6,000 cars coming and going during that shift change.”

Highway H and International Drive are each planned to be widened to four lanes with a median splitting the roadway to two lanes in each direction.

Braun Road is planned to be widened to six lanes, with two lanes reserved for shuttles for Foxconn employees, and will also be divided by a median.

‘It will grow our economy’

Also on Tuesday night, the village’s Civic Affairs Committee met to discuss ongoing issues facing the village, including the question: How will the village handle Foxconn?

Village Planner Robin Palm said having one “mega, King Kong tenant,” like Foxconn, might outweigh other businesses, which is something the committee needs to keep an eye on.

“It’s going to be a big thing to try to balance the needs and wants and cares of that tenant (Foxconn) as opposed to everyone that’s been here already,” Palm said. “We cannot forget about these people.”

Palm said the Village Board recently rezoned land in the western part of the village to business park related to the Foxconn development, which “means there’s a lot more land out there available to be pretty much immediately developed into commercial or industrial use.”

“We’re going to be getting a lot more businesses,” Palm said.

Laurie Swanson, a committee member, said a lot has been focused on the potential negative side effects of Foxconn coming to the village, and residents may not realize “the amount of local businesses that are going to be impacted by this.”

“It’s going to grow our economy by all the businesses that they’re (Foxconn) going to impact,” Swanson said.

CaraSpoto / JAKE HILL, for The Journal Times  

Horlick High School freshman Avion Alvarez tries his hand at an excavation simulator Tuesday with assistance from Chris Rachel, an instructor and operator with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, during the See Your Future Expo at SC Johnson’s iMet Center, 2320 Renaissance Blvd., Sturtevant. It was the third year for the Racine Unified School District event, which is designed to give freshman a sense of the careers available to them in Racine County.

Racine pursues videos for promotional material

RACINE — The City of Racine could be featured in a series of videos aimed at promoting the community.

A New York-based firm, CGI Communications, works with communities across the country to create video tours to use as marketing materials. The firm funds production by selling video sponsorship packages to local businesses. CGI would produce, write, shoot and edit the videos, while working with city officials and community leaders to select the content.

The city would not pay the firm for the work, but it would provide a letter of endorsement CGI could show businesses as it solicits sponsors. It would also have to include a link to the video tour on its website for three years.

The videos could be online by next fall, the records show.

City Administrator James Palenick said these videos could be beneficial for marketing Racine as Foxconn builds a manufacturing plant in neighboring Mount Pleasant.

“As we see a lot more development interest here … a lot more traffic will be driven to our website,” he said to the committee. “This will just make it that much better.”

The city’s Finance and Personnel Committee recommended approval of the plan at its meeting on Monday, with District 12 Alderman Henry Perez dissenting. He said he wanted to offer local businesses the opportunity to create the videos first before contracting with an out-of-state company.

“They know what’s going on here,” he said. “They know the heartbeat of who we are.”

In other decisions

The committee on Monday also recommended approval of donating $10,000 in contingency funds to Visioning a Greater Racine. The grassroots organization, steered by community members, business leaders and local government officials, has been developing a plan to improve the community in areas such as education, transportation, health and revitalizing key neighborhoods.

Perez abstained from the vote because of his involvement with the organization.

The full City Council is scheduled to take up the committee’s recommendations at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave.


For Racine Journal Times- Marquette University's #12, Kiesha Oliver, brings the ball up court during Thursday nights game with University of Wisconsin. Wisconsin State Journal/Steve Apps.

Committee advances anti-bullying measure


RACINE — Alex Hart-Upendo said it’s time for Racine to stand up to bullying.

The 11-year-old, known as the “bow tie biz kid,” said he had low self-esteem after being bullied in school. Because bow ties gave him confidence, Hart-Upendo said he started his Build-a-Bow business to raise awareness about bullying.

Now, he’s calling on the city to take a stand.

On Tuesday, the entrepreneur approached the city’s Public Safety and Licensing Committee to advocate passage of a proposed ordinance that would hold people accountable for bullying behaviors.

A copy of the proposal was not made available, but the committee discussed the details.

In addition to creating a city prohibition against harassment and unlawful use of computerized communication systems — which are addressed under state laws — the proposal also prohibits bullying. Further, parents and custodians of people younger than 18 could also face fines if they don’t intervene in their kids’ bullying after police notify them in writing of such conduct.

“Racine needs to stand up,” Hart-Upendo told the committee. “This is how we do it.”

The proposed measure is similar to ordinances other communities around Wisconsin and the United States have implemented in recent years to address bullying.

The committee on Tuesday night recommended approval of the ordinance. The full City Council is scheduled to take up the recommendation at its meeting set for 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 21 at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave.

Hammes license

The committee postponed taking action concerning the liquor license of Hammes Tavern, 2005 Taylor Ave., which closed about two months ago. Under city rules, people cannot hold a liquor license without being actively engaged in business. The license can be revoked if the business has not operated for 60 days.

A representative for Hammes Tavern told the committee it struggled to find a buyer, but said that has been resolved. The committee granted the business 30 days to reopen and provide proof that it is operating.


Jonathan Brines /