MOUNT PLEASANT — A public hearing next month will help determine whether the Village of Mount Pleasant can acquire all the land needed for the $10 billion Foxconn Technology Group project — even from property owners who refuse to sell all of their land.
On Monday the Mount Pleasant Community Development Authority set a hearing for 5 p.m. March 20 at the Village Hall, 8811 Campus Drive. That hearing could lead to village acquisitions of any remaining pieces of property needed for the massive Foxconn project.
Before the CDA meeting, Mount Pleasant’s property acquisition attorney and expert, Alan Marcuvitz, gave an update on Foxconn-related property acquisitions so far and what the process will be for the village to seek the rest of what will be needed.
As of Monday, Marcuvitz said, between $82 million and $85 million in total land purchase options were in hand in the three Foxconn areas combined. The village exercised all of those options and now owns those roughly 1,700 acres. Most purchases of large tracts of land are being made for $50,000 per acre.
Marcuvitz said he and Village Foxconn Project Director Claude Lois will seek Village Board approval next Monday to buy another group of properties totaling another 300 to 400 acres. In rough numbers, Marcuvitz said, that would give Mount Pleasant about 2,100 acres under contract in the three Foxconn areas, or about three-quarters of the 2,894 acres in Foxconn areas I, II and III.
He predicted that by next week there will not be one parcel left in Area I, where Foxconn plans to build its manufacturing campus, that is not being acquired via option, offer to purchase or eminent domain.
Eminent domain purchases involve appraisals and displacement plans that require state Department of Administration approval. The Mount Pleasant Village Board has agreed to offer 40 percent above appraised fair market value in those cases.
Marcuvitz said the village and county, working together, remain on their original timetable for the land acquisitions.
Marcuvitz said that when the village takes some of the property it needs, that will leave some people with what’s called an “uneconomic remnant.” That is a piece of property that has either little or no value: for example, when access is cut off to the remnant, because the DOT will not be allowing driveways along what will become multilane thoroughfares.
“We cannot take an uneconomic remnant on our own,” Marcuvitz said. Rather, it needs help from a state statute that defines a particular eminent domain situation.
A landowner can offer to sell such a piece to the government, he said. But if not, he said Wisconsin Statute 66.1333 (2m) (b) 3 comes into play for acquisition through eminent domain: “An area which is predominantly open and which because of obsolete platting, diversity of ownership, deterioration of structures or of site improvements, or otherwise, substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of the community.”
Those remnants need not be declared blighted, Marcuvitz said. But that statute allows the village to acquire uneconomic remnants for fair market value or more — even if the landowner refuses to sell.
The process starts with the Community Development Authority setting the boundaries of the entire Foxconn area and then holding a public hearing, the one set for March 20, he said. After the hearing, the CDA must wait 15 days, and anyone can submit what they want to in writing.
If the CDA then approves the area plan for acquisition, that recommendation goes to the Village Board where it requires a two-thirds vote of approval. If those things happen, Marcuvitz said, the remaining land purchases can be made via eminent domain if necessary.
However, Marcuvitz said he hopes the village will not need to acquire any uneconomic remnants through eminent domain, because all landowners in the Foxconn area will have sold or agreed to sell.