ROCHESTER — Residents in the county’s west end have questions about how the Foxconn manufacturing plant — and all of the workers and new development it is expected to bring — is going to affect their communities.
During a semi-annual “super meeting” Wednesday night of northwest Racine County community and school representatives, Norway Town Chair Jean Jacobson suggested that the communities all work together for planning purposes related to the development. She believes residents in her area have one primary question about the issue: “How’s it going to affect the rural atmosphere we’ve loved and lived in?”
Jacobson believes that all the communities in the west end should take a look at their land use plans and update them before work at the Foxconn site in Mount Pleasant begins. In her opinion, communities should decide where they want new businesses to locate and make a plan.
“We don’t want the developers to come in and do it for us,” she said.
Jacobson believes that the county has done a good job with this sort of planning in the past, but the smaller communities in the west end don’t have as much experience with it.
As the former county executive and County Board chair, Jacobson said she always looks at issues on a broad scale.
“We should get together to talk about how we see the area growing,” she said.
Rochester’s Village President Ed Chart said his constituents mostly want to know if there will be enough people in the county to fulfill the expected demand for jobs. If not, people will likely be moving in, possibly to west end communities in addition to those east of Interstate 94.
“It will affect us somewhat,” Chart said.
Foxconn, a Taiwanese company, hopes to employ up to 13,000 workers at its proposed 32 million-square-foot manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant.
“The numbers are mind-boggling,” Chart said.
It is also possible that traffic in the west part of the county could increase during the plant’s construction, Chart said, as they transport raw materials that might be used at the Foxconn site, such as gravel and stone. Rochester, the Town of Waterford and the Town of Burlington are home to quarries.
Chart agreed with Jacobson that it would be beneficial for all the communities to work together, and praised her leadership in this effort.
He said all the entities want to ensure that any changes or developments in one community won’t be detrimental to another.
“I think we’re a very special group here,” Jacobson said, “I think it’s a very unique part of this county.”
Other attendees at the super meeting, held Wednesday at the Rochester Village Hall, agreed that those on the west end need to think about how Foxconn and other related developments might affect school enrollment and capacity issues, as well as other services like fire and police departments.