Council debates Vision Business Park improvements

City leaders set new land fee, commission rate for park land
by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

The Sheboygan Falls Common Council appears ready to embark on a proactive campaign to pump some life into Vision Business Park.

Council members discussed establishing a revised land price with broker commission, as well as additional signage and infrastructure improvements for the city’s newest business park, which is located on the far west side of the city near the intersection of County TT and County C,, during an Economic Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

So far, the park has attracted only one business (Alternative Solutions), since it was initially de- veloped in 2006.

Economic Development Committee Chairman Terry VanEngen suggested pulling money out of the park’s TIF District 3 to cover the costs of adding roads and infrastructure in the park and the city’s $250,000 pledge to support the railroad improvement project.

“When I look at where Vision Park is right now, there is no doubt in my mind that we need to get some action going there,” Van Engen said. “We need to look at different ways to market the land, which could mean that we cut some roads in there to provide better access to the lots.

“It could also mean putting up bigger and better signage near the park and on Highway 23,” he said.

Van Engen also brought up the possibility of entering into a broker’s agreement to sell the TIF land.

Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp Community Development and Research Specialist Dane Checolinski was present at the meeting to review the current status of the park with members of the council.

Checolinski spoke in favor of setting up a broker’s agreement with a set land cost and an additional commission free.

“Land costs are an issue right now,” Checolinski said. “Right now Sheboygan Falls is at $15,000 per acre, which I think is way too low. If your land charge is too cheap developers will wonder what is wrong. It might not be a bad idea to open it up to a land broker that works on a commission to sell municipal-owned land.”

He informed the council that Plymouth currently charges $30,000 per acre in its newest business park near Highway 57, while the city of Sheboygan charges $22,000 per acre with an extra $3,000 commission fee.

Checolinski also noted that Oostburg, which has the lowest land fee in the county at $12,500 per acre, will soon be raising its rate to $15,000.

“The trend is to offer commission to commercial brokers, which I think would be beneficial for Sheboygan Falls to do,” he said.

Mayor Randy Meyer agreed that the city should increase its land fee.

“I think $15,000 is way too low,” he said. “I would be more comfortable with starting at a higher number and possibly negotiating from that depending on the type of project we are considering.”

Following a brief discussion, the council agreed on a flat land fee of $22,000 with an additional $3,000 commission fee for a total cost of $25,000 per acre for land in the park.

Checolinski also encouraged the council to add roads, infrastructure and signage for the park.

“The land has a lot of potential,” he said. “ It has potential rail access, it is close to the airport and highway 23,” he said. “It is also in a very nice location just on the edge of the city. The park has a lot of things going for it.”

Checolinski discussed several suggestions on how to draw more attention to Vision Business Park.

“You can’t market a farm field as a business park, which is basically what it is right now,” Checolinski said. “There is a very small sign that you can’t even read the numbers on from the road.

“Having a sign on highway 23 would be a big step forward, since it is kind of hidden away from major traffic routes,” he said.

Checolinski said the city is currently scheduled to pay off TIF District 3 in 2018, which is five years early. He noted that the adjustment will push back that timetable by at least a year.

Meyer said the council should wait until the TIF District is amended before deciding to add signage or upgrade marketing strategies.

“I think amending the TIF is the number one goal right now,” Meyer said. “This needs to go through a review board that includes myself and a person I appoint, as well as representatives from LTC, the Sheboygan Falls School District and the county. This process needs to be done by the end of the year, but it will take a while to complete.”

VanEngen said the adjusted TIF will allow the city to be ready to make improvements on relatively short notice.

“This way we will be able to react if something comes along,” he said. “It will be good to have that money available to put back into the park for improvements that will in turn help a possible developer.”

The proposal to amend TIF District 3 will be included on the next Common Council agenda on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

In other business, Director of Public Works Mike Mersberger reviewed the details a proposed cross connection control program, during a City Services Committee meeting.

The program covers the inspection of homes and businesses for the presence and effectiveness of back flow preventers for sewer connection. Following a brief discussion, the council agreed to table the item for a future meeting.

The committee also met in closed session to discuss a renewal proposal for the city’s refuse disposal contract.

During the regular Common Council meeting, the council approved a conditional-use permit submitted by Craig Rusch of Woodland Tree Farm.

Rusch’s request covers the daily sale of gourds, pumpkins, Christmas trees and wreaths from September through December in the Odyssey Fun Center parking lot from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

The council also approved a school/travel request for Kale Rortvedt to attend fourth-year apprentice school in Eau Claire Oct. 7-12, Jan. 27-31, 2013 and April 14-18, 2013.

Operator license applications were also approved for Candace M. Bonde and Kevin Marti, with Jennifer N. Hardenburg’s request denied.

City Clerk-Treasurer Joel Tauschek reported that the city’s estimated population has increased by 72 citizens to 7,847 as of Jan. 1, 2012.

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