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Public Hearing on Dog Track Rezoning Set for Monday

The Hudson School District referendum to purchase the St. Croix Meadows property passed on Tuesday, but the City of Hudson can still kill the deal if it decides not to rezone the land for public use.

The 's plan to purchase the St. Croix Meadows dog track property for a future secondary school site , but it still needs at least four more yes votes to become reality.

That final vote will take place among members of the 's Common Council when it takes up the issue of whether to rezone the 131-acre property from commercial use to public use. But, there are a few steps, including a public hearing on Monday and a Plan Commission recommendation on Thursday, before the matter will come to the council for that vote.

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WHAT'S AT ISSUE

A site for a secondary school to solve district space issues

The school district's space issues , and well before. 

is currently well over capacity and is using two classrooms at neighboring Hudson Prairie Elementary School. Some teachers don't have their own classrooms and use carts to move their materials to different classrooms throughout the day. Enrollment projections show that the school will become even more crowded in coming years.

is currently close to its capacity and the lack of adequate space is already beginning to have a negative impact on the school's ability to offer certain science, art and music courses. Enrollment projections show that the number of students will surpass the school's capacity within a few years and continue to rise.

Not only did the district's referendum get , but more than 58 percent of voters in the City of Hudson voted yes. District 2, where the property is, 63.1 percent voted in favor of the district's property purchase.

Loss of commercially zoned property and tax revenue

At the Feb. 13 Plan Commission meeting, Hudson's Community Development Director Denny Darnold presented an analysis of tax revenue that would be given up if the property were zoned for public use. 

In 2011, the vacant property was taxed $93,696.04, more than $22,000 of which ended up in the city's coffers. If the land is rezoned for use as a public school, those numbers would be zero.

Though the track has been vacant for several years,  last year when the owners first started working with a listing agent to sell the property. 

If the property were to be developed commercially, Darnold concluded the potential lost property tax revenue would be an estimated $151,587 to $318,847 for the City of Hudson alone. The school district itself would forego an estimated $244,877 to $515,071.

That revenue would be difficult for the city to recoup, because the 131-acre property makes up about one-third of the city's available commercial land.

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HOW THE DECISION WILL BE MADE

Public Hearing on Monday, April 9

The next step in that process happens at 6:45 p.m. on Monday, April 9, at a special public hearing that will be held just before the next city council meeting. At that hearing, Barbara Van Loenen, president of the Hudson School District Board of Education, will make a presentation and members of the community will have a chance to deliver their own remarks and comments to the council. The council will make no decisions on the matter on April 9 and will await a recommendation from the city's Plan Commission.

Plan Commission Meeting on Thursday, April 12

The Plan Commission first heard from the school district, and from the current property owner, Croixland Properties, at a meeting on Feb. 13, 2012. At that meeting the commission decided not to take a stand on the matter before voters had their say on the referendum. Now that the referendum has passed, the commission will take up the issue again at its April 12 meeting, and likely will vote to make a recommendation to either approve or deny the rezoning request. The commission's recommendation is non-binding and the Common Council will have the final say.

Common Council Meeting likely April 23 or later

The earliest the Common Council could take up the rezoning issue without scheduling a special meeting would be at its annual organization meeting on April 17. But that meeting is usually reserved for welcoming new members, issuing the oath of office, and votes on the council presidency and the mayor's slate of committee appointments. It's much more likely to be on the agenda at the council's April 23 meeting, or a later meeting. It will take a majority of the members of council (four) at that meeting to approve the rezoning. Mayor Alan Burchill will cast the deciding vote in the event of a 3-3 tie.

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THE DECIDERS

Randy Morrissette II
715-222-8890, District1@ci.hudson.wi.us

Mary Yacoub
715-760-9897, District2@ci.hudson.wi.us

Lori Bernard
715-381-5539, District3@ci.hudson.wi.us

Kurt TeWinkel
715-316-9004, District4@ci.hudson.wi.us

John Hoggatt
612-221-3107, District5@ci.hudson.wi.us

Rich Vanselow
715-386-8949, District6@ci.hudson.wi.us

Alan Burchill   
715-386-4765 (ext. 120), Mayor@ci.hudson.wi.us  

Mobi April 06, 2012 at 04:31 AM
The city should: 1) Go Slow. Take time to study the long-term impacts on the city. Consider amending the comprehensive plan to expand commercial zoning in the extraterritorial areas around exit 4, hanley rd/hwy35, and glover/hwy35. 2) Explain to non-city taxpayers how city taxpayers will have to bear multiple impacts including loss of current tax revenue, loss of future tax revenue, supporting all the future police and transportation needs for the school. 3) Require Croixland and Hudson School District to bring detailed plans for the facility prior to any rezoning, just as happened with the Uline rezone. In other words bring forward the grade configuration now so that traffic and sewer impacts can be evaluated. 4) Consider issuing a conditional use permit with a time limit of one year in which the school district would need to pass a bonding referendum for the construction of the school. Both the city and Croixland will want the property to be saleable as commercial land if it isn't to be a school. Croixland would have to be willing to grant the school district an option rather than outright purchase now. It would be disastrous for both the city and the school district to have the parcel owned by HSD but left in limbo by the failure to get voter approval for a huge referendum.
Micheal Foley April 06, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Nice analysis. You seem like you're very close to the issue!
MrsPeel April 06, 2012 at 07:15 AM
@Mobi, Some very solid suggestions. There should be no "rush to judgement" on the zoning issue. There are too many factors to be considered before a reasoned decision can be made. For instance, there may be a way for the School District to work with the City of Hudson to compensate for the .lost tax revenue; the new school would be buying a considerable amount of water and sewage service from the city to offset these losses. There may be different "funds" within the City to be considered, but this can be worked out. Nothing should be decided at a Hearing on Monday other than to set some dates in the near future to allow for time to develop the situation, provide the facts for decision making, and take any strong emotions out of the process.
Frazzle April 06, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Water department is a separate budget than city budget. Good comment mobile.mobi
Paine Reliever April 06, 2012 at 02:01 PM
How do you compensate for "potential" lost income from that site? From what I have read, the city has only recieved $22,000 last year with it being vacant. We have no knowledge of how long it would take to develop it or if buyers are even interested in purchasing it. What if the cost of demolishing the building on top of the asking price would make it prohibitive to buyers? What if the city had to create a T.I.F. district like they did at the industrial park which allowed businesses to pay no tax for a number of years to lure them there. How many years did businesses pay no taxes to the city at the industrial park? Some have said 10 years. Also, isn't this just shuffling money around? After all, if you charge the district you are really just charging the tax payers anyway. I am just saying that decent percentage of the students are from the city so you have to weigh the percentage of benefit the city gets taken out of any compensation. So, to me, this seems like less of an issue than some will try to make it.
Paine Reliever April 06, 2012 at 02:31 PM
By the way Mr Foley, thank you for a very informative post regarding background and process leading up to this council meeting.
mainstreet April 06, 2012 at 05:35 PM
PR said. "We have no knowledge of how long it would take to develop it or if buyers are even interested in purchasing it. What if the cost of demolishing the building on top of the asking price would make it prohibitive to buyers?" Exactly. So why would the SD offer to pay 8+ million for a property with an assessment of 5.5 million? And aren't the pictures nice of the track with school buses in front of it? You know they are going to tear it down. Hopefully the city will put an end to this boondoggle.
Mobi April 06, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Need a TIF to develop that land commercially? Could be, but the improvements needed would be minimal since the roads, water & sewer are already in. That's what is so special about this site. Few communities in the east metro have 100+ acre parcels already zoned commercial with the utilities in. A TIF district almost certainly WILL be needed to replace it, when Hudson goes out into a neighboring town, annexing land, extending and improving roads, extending water and sewer lines, etc. All of which must be financed just to get back to the point of having "ready to develop" commercial property again. @Paine has stumbled into one of the prime difficulties with this decision for city officials. Ready to go land can mean new tax revenue is only a couple years away - like U-Line. Establishing a similar ready to build parcel in a new area could mean tax revenue that helps the city budget could be 10-12 years away, even if a site is located and construction started soon. School officials should look for a different approach to city officials than the super used in her press release, where she called for city officials to "honor the will of the voters" by rezoning the property. Instead it would be better to recognize the pressure that these public servants are under as they struggle with tight budgets. Remember the "will of the voters" can quickly change as they learn more about complex issues. Another referendum of city voters could be ahead before this is all over.
Paine Reliever April 06, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Mainstreet, I have no interest in debating an issue that was put to the voters and approved. Do you have any point to make why the city council should or should not approve the re-zoning because I believe that is what this thread is about. The referendum passed. It is not the city councils responsibility approve or not based on your not liking the results of a referendum.
mainstreet April 06, 2012 at 07:06 PM
My point is I believe the city would be negligent in their duty to city residents and taxpayers in approving a zoning change to that parcel of land due to the the lost revenues the city would suffer. I read up the thread where someone was thinking that another referendum may be forth coming for city residents to approve the zoning change. I would welcome that if it was held in November in the general election. Otherwise it would be a sham election. What would really be the way to go is to have the people who actually pay the city property taxes vote. They are the ones who pay the bills.
Paine Reliever April 06, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Mainstreet, you once again missed the point of the election. The referendum was for the dog track property to be purchased now for future use as a school site, not a future IKEA. And the voters in the city of Hudson approved it by a larger percentage than the rest of the district. By voting for the referendum, they (city of Voters) approved the re-zoning of the property. A future referendum for the building itself is no secret. Give the voters some credit.
Eagle April 06, 2012 at 07:52 PM
A sign of a great leader is to make a decision with their mind, not their heart. In this case, it is voting against the election results and voting no on the rezoning. I believe that the voters want and new school so bad that they would have voted yes regardless of where and in what condition the land was in.
Paine Reliever April 06, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Mobi, excellent points to consider. Agree with you about ready to go commercial land. Yes it would take time to replace it. I wonder however if the hurdles of the dog track property hurt its chances commercially. Someone has to pay for tearing the building down and would the size of the property along with the fact that it is not even visable from I94 mean that it would be done in small chunks over a much longer period? Big box and fast small development will be on the exits of I94. By waiting for the referendum, the city puts themselves in a difficult situation. It insinuates that they will be directed in part by the results of the referendum. To come in now and say it is too steep a price to give up the commercial property begs the question that if the loss of tax revenue is the greatest determining factor, then they should have just stated that from the beginning. I agree that the school administrators need more than the will of the people arguement, but they do have a point. Good discussion. How Hudson (not just the schools) deal with growth is an ongoing discussion.
Eagle April 06, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I do not believe that the planning commission has a right to say that loss of tax revenue is to steep as a reason. That is the job of the city council, which has not taken the issue up yet and will not until the planning commission goes thought its process.
Frazzle April 06, 2012 at 10:38 PM
The referendum question was to buy land for a school. Not re-zoning. The City Council is voting on a completely different question than what the referendum was.
Frazzle April 06, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Maybe the school board should have gone to the City first. They didn't. They came to the city after they signed a contingent purchase agreement. Your Gripe should be with the superintendent not the City
MrsPeel April 07, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Was that not mentioned in the post? In the end it is all money paid to the City of Hudson and internal adjustments and shifts can be identified to take this into consideration.
Frazzle April 08, 2012 at 11:31 AM
The plan commission has every right to use that as a rationale for rezoning.
Eagle April 10, 2012 at 01:13 PM
TH3, will the Supreme Court make your Anti-Democracy list when/if it strikes down the Affordable Care Act?
Thurston Howell III April 10, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Eagle, This Supreme Court is one more part of the assault on Democracy. They made my list when the ruled that Corporations are people and their vast sums of money poured into political campaigns are their "free speech". The so called "Re-constructionists" are anathema to Democracy. I hope that answers your question. I also hope that you're well enough informed to follow the argument I just made.
Eagle April 10, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Do you feel the same way about unions pouring millions of dollars into the political process? I hope so as SEIU, Teamsters and AFSCME are people just like corporations. Yes, I am informed.
Ed Larson April 10, 2012 at 04:13 PM
"They made my list when the ruled that Corporations are people and their vast sums of money poured into political campaigns are their "free speech". Really? you don't look over 100! Citizen's United was NOT about corporate personhood. Unions also cannot be restricted in their free speech as a result of the ruling. Corporations don't vote but the people that make them up do. There is so much misinformation out there regarding corporate personhood one wonders if there shouldn't;t be a test before being allowed to vote.
Ed Larson April 10, 2012 at 04:37 PM
You are badly informed Thurston. Live with it. We make it far to easy to vote in this country. Why would anyone oppose proper ID to vote? How many who vote have little or no understanding of the issues or candidates running? The dog track vote is more than ample evidence of that.
Ed Larson April 10, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Keep trying Thurston. You leftist are all all alike. Twist the facts and ignore reality. Sad.
Ed Larson April 10, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Walker is right. Public employee unions are bad news. Only leftist think you can tax your way to prosperity. I suppose you believe in unicorns too
Ed Larson April 10, 2012 at 05:03 PM
It's been fun Thurston. Not real fun but fun. Kind of like leftist budgets that deny reality. Gotta go. More later.
Ed Larson April 10, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Here is my parting shot Thurston. Assuming you are a rank and file leftist with no idea of reality. Explain to all the fine folks here how beyond stupid spending by leftist of every stripe will ever bring anything but a fake(temporary) prosperity that someone else gets to pay for. And taxing the rich is not a valid answer.
Ed Larson April 10, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I didn't think you could do it. Thanks for not disappointing. Next!
Ed Larson April 12, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Thurston Thurston Thurston. Try to be specific. What data are you looking for. Trust me. I can back up everything I say. How about you?

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