KENOSHA — The Kenosha County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution authorizing land acquisition for the controversial Highway KR widening project Tuesday night.
The passage allows methods including eminent domain to facilitate the proposed Wisconsin Department of Transportation project that would widen a 2.8-mile stretch of KR from two to four lanes while adding a turn lane, medians and multi-use path at the expense of Somers and Mount Pleasant residents’ land. Now eyes are on Racine County, which still must approve its own land acquisition resolution for the project to advance.
The resolution passed 14-7, with Kenosha County supervisors Zach Rodriguez, Gabe Nudo, Jeff Wamboldt, Michael Skalitzky, John Poole, Mark Nordigian and Erin Decker voting against it. Skalitzky, Nordigian, Poole and Womboldt also voted against passing the resolution to the full board during a joint Public Works/Facilities and Finance/Administration Committee meeting last week.
County supervisors Joseph Cardinali and Mark Goebel were absent.
Residents along KR have sought compromise in the different aspects of the project’s design and to lower the speed limit, which is currently 45 mph in the project area, to 35 mph. They cite safety concerns, but the agreement between the DOT and the counties specifies the road will stay at 45 mph.
“The fine citizens of Racine and Kenosha counties — these people sitting behind me, your constituents — are not your problem. They’re your responsibility,” Leslie Maj of Mount Pleasant, who stands to lose about 100 feet of her yard to the project, said during the public comment period.
After the votes were revealed, a groan of disappointment rose from about 20 residents in attendance who live on or near KR. They quickly filed out of the board chambers.
“They’re (expletive) us over!” one woman yelled on her way out.
Decker made a motion to send the resolution back to committee, but such a motion was not allowed because the meeting was the final one of the current board before the new supervisors are sworn in. Nubo tried to table the resolution and Rodriguez seconded the motion, but they were overruled because under Robert’s Rules of Order, items can only be tabled when the board does not have adequate information.
Newly elected Kenosha County Supervisor Amy Maurer, who represents the affected Somers residents and was sworn in after Tuesday night’s meeting, said she would have voted against the resolution had she been sworn in before the meeting.
Racine County’s resolution is on the agenda for the April 25 joint meeting of the Executive and Public Works, Parks and Facilities committees. It will then go to the full County Board for first reading May 7 and second reading May 14.
The Racine County resolution was kicked back to committee by the County Board on March 12 after significant resident opposition made itself apparent during a Feb. 28 public hearing at Somers Village Hall, 7511 12th St., Somers.
As currently planned, the project calls for 68.9 acres of land from 400 feet east of Highway H to 1,600 feet east of Old Green Bay Road, with most of it coming from the Mount Pleasant side of the highway. More than two dozen property owners stand to lose significant portions of their front yard or even entire houses.
The counties are responsible for the cost of land acquisition, while the DOT would contribute $59 million for the design and construction of the revamped highway.