Town says no to state plans for frontage road

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Town Board isn’t on board with the state Department of Transportation’s latest plans for the State 23 corridor north of the city of Plymouth.

The DOT is seeking support from local officials for their latest freeway update plan for State 23 between State 57 and State 67, which would end the current frontage road at Fairview Drive/ County OJ and then route it north for roughly half a mile on OJ to a new road west to connect with Terrace Avenue and River Heights Drive in the town before intersecting State 67.

That proposal drew vociferous opposition from residents of the River Heights subdivision at a public information meeting last fall and supervisors cited that opposition in refusing to endorse the DOT plan.

“I didn’t feel the Town Board was on board with this because the constituents in River Heights do not favor this,” Town Chairman Jim Lubach commented.

Lubach pointed out that the DOT has upgraded its proposal since that meeting, adding a roundabout at the intersection of River Heights Drive and State 67.

While the planned frontage road through the subdivision would not change the street right-of-ways and any homes along the route, Lubach said a roundabout at the State 67 intersection would mean, “two houses there are probably going to be kind of in the way.”

He reported that the DOT is looking to begin preliminary surveying and measuring for the latest freeway proposal – which is still likely a decade or two in the future – this year.

“They would like to know from us what the town wants,” Lubach told the board.

The answer was an emphatic no, with supervisors stating their preference for the original agreement signed by the state, the county, the town and the city of Plymouth in 1996 calling for a frontage road route entirely south of State 23.

“Why can’t they stick with that? Just because they want it their way,” Supervisor Roger Rortvedt stated.

State officials have indicated that the 1996 plan would be too costly, especially for a new bridge over the Mullet River, and could face potential negative environmental impacts.

“At least they know how we stand as a town,” Supervisor Ray Gremminger stated after the board unanimously passed Rortvedt’s motion to oppose the River Heights route for the frontage road.

The board voted to support an application from AT&T to replace their antennas and add radios on the cellular tower on the former town dump site in the town of Greenbush.

Greenbush Town Chairman Michael Limberg explained that the application is before his board, but the town of Plymouth and the village of Glenbeulah, as owners of the property where the tower is located, must agree to the request before Greenbush can approve a conditional use permit for the changes.

Limberg noted that the request would not increase the height of the tower or add any more antennas.

Town Attorney Jim Hughes reported that he has spoken with county University of Wisconsin- Extension Agent David Such about renewing the town’s participation in the farmland preservation program.

Hughes said Such is willing to work with the town to renew its certification and the board agreed to meet with Such later this month to review the process.

Gremminger suggested that the board should consider adding handicapped parking spaces in the Town Hall parking lot.

He noted that state law requires only one such spot, which is what is currently in the parking lot, but said he felt more are needed.

“I just think it’s common courtesy,” Gremminger explained. He related that when he came to the hall to pay his property tax recently, there were at least three or four town residents there for the same reason who were eligible to use the handicapped spot but could not because it was already taken.

His fellow supervisors concurred that an increase is in order and agreed to take it up at a future board meeting.

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