CALEDONIA — The village’s Planning Commission is pondering a proposed land use study, examining how to best use land near I-94 in light of the Foxconn Development in neighboring Mount Pleasant.
The commission hired Foth Infrastructure and Environment, a design and engineering firm in Milwaukee, to conduct the study. At a meeting on Wednesday, Project Manager Jeff Muenkel went over the study’s findings, including a recommended land use plan for 2035. Muenkel and the commission also held workshops in December, January and February to delve into specifics.
The plan recommends designating the area adjacent to Highway K as an industrial/business park from I-94 to Highway H and from the Mount Pleasant Border to Four Mile Road.
But Muenkel said the industrial/business park designation could also accommodate a variety of developments from multi-family residential to retail, hospitality and restaurants in addition to manufacturing facilities and offices.
“We’re leaving the uses wide open to let the market determine what uses there’ll be along (Highway K),” said Muenkel.
Muenkel also pointed out that designations on a land use plan are not the same as zoning designations, so developers would still have to receive approval from the village before going forward and village officials and residents would still be able to shape how the corridor is developed.
Two other areas along the interstate are recommended for industrial/business parks — one along 7 Mile Road and another from 7½ Mile Road north to the border with Oak Creek.
Foth recommended a few industries that are underserved in the area or that the Foxconn development will prompt to grow, such as manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. The company also recommended developing commercial amenities to accompany an increasing population, such as grocery stores, big box stores or restaurants.
Other than the recommended industrial/business parks, the proposed land use plan shows a long strip of commercial development right next to the Interstate with a wider strip of medium-density housing to the east of that until Highway V. Within those strips are patches of natural resource and recreational areas.
Village Trustee Jay Benkowski suggested adding a strip of high-density housing as a buffer between the commercial development and medium-density housing.
Howard Stacey, Caledonia’s Utility District Commission president, said he is concerned with the amount of housing designated along the highway. The required infrastructure for housing versus the property tax revenue would be, according to Stacey, a financial loss for the village. He advocated that more areas should be slated for commercial development.
Laura Million, Racine County Economic Development Corporation’s business development manager, said RCEDC has commissioned a targeted development study, a portion of which will look at housing. Million cautioned the village not to build a plan on preconceived notions about housing when there’s a study coming that could provide new insights into the costs and benefits.
The committee on Wednesday voted to accept the study, which gets the ball rolling on a process of public hearing sessions and discussions to fine-tune the village’s actions based on the recommendations.
In addition to the land use plan, the study included suggestions for design standards and changes to the village’s zoning code.
A full copy of the report is available on the village’s website at: http://caledoniawi.com/planningagreements
“We’re leaving the uses wide open to let the market determine what uses there’ll be along (Highway K).” Jeff Muenkel, planning consultant working with the village of Caledonia
RACINE — After two years of fundraising, it looks like an all-inclusive playground at Wadewitz Elementary School will finally be a reality this spring.
Altogether, six staff members collected about $200,000 through various fundraisers, donations and grants to pay for the handicap-accessible equipment.
“It feels amazing to see over two years of hard work finally coming to fruition,” said playground committee member Lisa Johnson. “Our students, staff, and families are becoming more and more excited by the day. We can’t wait to finally have our Dream Big playground become a reality for our kids. We are also very grateful for the donations and contributions from our community and supporters.”
The existing Wadewitz playground is almost 20 years old and is not handicap-accessible. Parts of it are boarded up and, after rain storms, flooding makes it unusable for days. Students in wheelchairs can’t even approach the equipment, as the ground beneath it is covered in sand and it is bordered by railroad ties.
Wadewitz, 2700 Yout St., has a large population of students with orthopedic impairments, including many who use wheelchairs. Of its nearly 600 students, 22 percent have special needs — including autism, physical limitations and intellectual challenges.
After Johnson spoke during the March 19 Racine Unified School Board meeting, the board approved the installation of the new equipment.
Unified is contributing approximately $50,000 to the project. The district is also fronting $9,600 for the rubber surface underneath the new equipment, needed for safety and wheelchair accessibility. The playground committee is continuing to do fundraising and plans to reimburse the district for that amount.
The new equipment will include textured slides for students with sensory needs and a rocking boat that will hold four wheelchairs in addition to able-bodied students. There will be therapy rings to help students build strength, ramps for easy access to equipment and a wobble sphere meant to soothe children with autism. The new equipment will feature 6,000 square feet of play space.
The playground committee met weekly for the past two years to plan for fundraising. The group was awarded various grants and received donations from family, friends and community members. The largest gift of $100,000 came from Johnson’s aunt, Kathy Ippolite.
They also received many donations from various community clubs. After a first grade Wadewitz student died this year, all funeral donations were made to the playground, in her memory.
During the March 19 meeting, Wadewitz Principal Chad Chapin thanked all those involved with the fundraising and those who donated.
“Not only would this be a fantastic achievement for Wadewitz Elementary School, we feel this will also be another shining moment for the Racine Unified School District,” Chapin said.
The district had plans to begin removing the existing playground equipment this week, with site preparation set for the second week in April.
The playground is on track for a June 1 opening.
“It’s very heartwarming to see the effort that you put forth,” School Board member Julie McKenna told the committee members at the March 19 meeting.
“It feels amazing to see over two years of hard work finally coming to fruition.” Lisa Johnson, playground committee member
RACINE — Reconstruction of Highway 32 (Hamilton Street/Douglas Avenue), from Main Street to Goold Street, in the City of Racine, is set to begin Monday, April 2, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has announced.
Improvements planned in $6.1 million project include:
Within the construction zone, Douglas Avenue will be limited to southbound traffic only. Northbound traffic will be detoured around construction via Main Street and Goold Street, or via State Street and Memorial Drive.
Access for homes and emergency vehicles will be maintained and bus routes will be detoured.
The contractor, LaLonde Contractors, is planning on completing the project by late fall. The schedule of work is weather dependent and subject to change.
More information can be found on the project website at: https://projects.511wi.gov/32rac/