Council seeks tannery redevelopment options

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor


THE SHEBOYGAN FALLS COMMON COUNCIL is set to explore options for possible future uses of the Stern Tannery property, located adjacent to the Sheboygan River in the downtown Sheboygan Falls historic business district. The former Stern Tannery office building, located at 334 Broadway Street, is slated to be razed and the city has enlisted Ce Planning Studio to formulate a plan for redevelopment options. - Falls News photo by Jeff Pederson THE SHEBOYGAN FALLS COMMON COUNCIL is set to explore options for possible future uses of the Stern Tannery property, located adjacent to the Sheboygan River in the downtown Sheboygan Falls historic business district. The former Stern Tannery office building, located at 334 Broadway Street, is slated to be razed and the city has enlisted Ce Planning Studio to formulate a plan for redevelopment options. - Falls News photo by Jeff Pederson The Sheboygan Falls Common Council approved a plan seeking redevelopment options for the former Stern Tannery site, during a semimonthly meeting Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Sheboygan Falls Municipal Building.

The plan calls for the city to seek possible development options for the property, which is located in the historic downtown business district adjacent to the Sheboygan River.

The Stern Tannery facility was destroyed by fire in June 2007 and the city has engaged in periodic discussions about possible future development of the riverfront property ever since.

In recent weeks, Stern Tannery owner Jeff Stern announced plans to raze an unoccupied building located at 334 Broadway St., which had served as a Stern Tannery office building, and housed a slew of other businesses over the years.

Stern is also actively seeking to sell the property.

“Jeff Stern has taken out a raze permit and has expressed his desire to take down the building before the end of the first quarter of the year,” Alderman and Economic Development Committee Chair Al Mayer said. “Mr. Stern’s attorney has recommended an urban planner to help initiate the process of new development.

“It is important for us to be proactive and contract with an urban planner to develop a plan for this site,” he said. “I believe we need to do something to get the process started. It has been 10 years now. New development in that area would be good for the city.”

Mayor Randy Meyer spoke in favor of working with Carolyn Esswein of Ce Planning Studio to formulate a redevelopment concept and potential plan for the .67- acre site.

“Once the building is down, we should pursue options for the development of the property,” Meyer said. “It is a complex piece of property, considering its proximity to the river, how long and narrow it is, the elevation change from the street to the river bank and the historic standards any buildings must meet as part of the historic downtown business district.

“I think doing this is a good investment for the city and would give us a good idea of what type of development is viable in that area,” he said.

Alderman Terry Van Engen spoke out against the city’s involvement in the process of selling the property.

“Wouldn’t we just be building up the sale price for the owner by doing this?” Van Engen questioned. “It is to his [Jeff Stern’s] advantage to have this study done. I think the city needs to be reimbursed down the line if this happens.”

Deputy City Administrator Shad Tenpas said a redevelopment plan for the property would be advantageous for all entities involved in a potential sale.

“Having a plan done by an urban planner such as Carolyn would help to serve as a buffer between a developer and the city,” Tenpas said. “Carolyn is from Kiel originally, so she has a good feel for small towns.

“Having a plan like this in place would be beneficial to a developer and it would give us an idea of what kind of development is realistic in that location,” he said. “In my opinion, it would be beneficial and helpful to the city as we move forward.”

Sheboygan Falls Chamber- Main Street Executive Director Shirl Breunig added that any new development would need to fit with the present look and feel of the downtown business district.

“Anything that happens in that historic district must be complementary to what the downtown has right now,” Breunig said. “The historical element has to be part of a plan for new development there.”

Meyer referred to a proposal from Ce Planning Studio covering a variety of services, including background and base data, redevelopment concept and revisions to the current site plan at a cost not to exceed $4,500, in recommending that the council approve a proposal for a price not to exceed $10,000.

“I would like to suggest that we approve our proposal to be more general in the event that we choose not to go with Ce Planning Studio,” Meyer said. “I would like to use Ce and that is the plan at this time, but you just never know.

“If it doesn’t work out with Ce, I think we would be safe in approving that we spend no more than $10,000 for a redevelopment plan,” he said. “I’m looking at this as more of an approval of an idea, rather than a specific firm at this point.”

The council approved the motion by a margin of 5-1, with Van Engen casting the lone vote against.

In other business, the council approved a $4,470 bid from Specht Electric of Sheboygan to replace fluorescent lighting fixtures in the police department.

The council also approved the purchase of Scott Air Pak x-3 with PASS and Cylinder air packs for the fire department at a cost of $150,800, with $150,000 of the cost coming out of the capital improvement budget.

The council backed the purchase of a Spin Doctor 400 valve turner from HD Supply Waterworks of Milwaukee at a cost of $8,100 out of the water department fund.

The council approved Ordinance No. 10 2015-16 amending the municipal code regarding establishing a travel and vacation policy for city employees.

“This ordinance amendment updates several items related to meal allowances, mileage and vacation approval policies,” Finance and Personnel Committee Chair Randy Messner said. “These are relatively minor items that we needed to clean up and update going forward.”

The council approved a travel request for Police Chief Steve Riffel, Deputy Chief Steve Ross and Captain Aaron Wigen to attend the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Mid-Winter Training Conference at a cost of $1,195.

The council also granted a travel request for Deputy City Administrator Shad Tenpas to attend Wisconsin Vote training for elections at a cost of $336.64.

An operator’s license application for Connie Weichmann earned council approval.

The next Sheboygan Falls Common Council meeting will take place tuesday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at the Municipal Building.


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