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School District Asks for 30 More Days in Dog Track Rezoning

After almost two hours of discussion, the Hudson Plan Commission voted to give the Hudson School District a 30-day extension on presenting its plan to the city.

A Plan Commission recommendation to Hudson Common Council on whether to rezone the St. Croix Meadows Property didn't come Thursday during the commission's meeting as the Hudson School District asked the commission for 30 more days to prepare more information.

"Tonight we're going to share some background information about how we got here, and we're also going to ask for a little more time," Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten told the commission on Thursday. "It was only nine days ago, so there are a number of steps we'd like to take to inform you and give you more information. We're going to provide background tonight, learn what your questions are and then move forward with making a proposal to you at the end of our presentation about next steps."

The slow, cautious approach is a contrast from how the school district had been proceeding with the issue until Thursday. The district first asked the Hudson Plan Commission to recommend rezoning at the commission's Feb. 13 meeting, but the commission voted to delay any recommendations until after the results of the April 3 referendum were known.

With those results coming back with 57 percent in favor of the property purchase, the city held a public hearing on the matter on Monday, and the commission was set to take up the issue on Thursday.

Pete Seguin, representing Croixland Properties, began the presentation to the commission by addressing the loss in tax revenue that would occur if the land would be rezoned for public use.

"This land does not now, and isn't likely in the future going to provide significant or irreplaceable tax revenue to the city," Seguin said. "I realize that any tax revenue is welcome, however the city share of the real estate tax revenue for this parcel has been approximately $22,000 annually from 2007 to 2010. In 2011 it was $25,000, the highest amount. While that's nothing to sneeze at, it's certainly not an irreplaceable source of tax revenue."

David Robson of Greystone Commercial followed Seguin and keyed in how commercial property on the south side of the city would become more attractive to developers if a school was on the dog track site drawing more traffic to that part of town. He also hit the tax revenue point by listing 30 parcels around the city that, if developed, would provide tax revenue to the city in excess of $2.4 million, easily replacing the $25,000 it currently receives from St. Croix Meadows.

Bowen-Eggebraaten then presented for the district, along with Board of Education members Brian Bell and Barbara Van Loenen. The commission also heard comments from six community members in attendance before launching into a lengthy question-and-answer session with the district representatives.

Mayor Alan Burchill asked how much additional time the district would need, and Bowen-Eggebraaten said about a month. He also advocated sitting down with the district to come up with a win-win situation.

Commissioner Fred Yoerg expressed his concerns with the loss of revenue to the city.

Commissioner Frank Rhoades asked what would happen if the next school referendum failed.

Commissioner Paul Radermacher asked several questions about why the county parcel at Vine and Carmichael had been deemed too small and not suitable. Yoerg pointed out that a secondary school in Green Bay had been built on considerably fewer acres and hold considerably more students.

District 2 Alderperson Mary Yacoub, who also serves on the commission asked what the district's secondary plan was in case the rezoning request was denied. Commissioner Mary Claire Potter expressed similar concerns.

Commissioner Kevin Vance asked for clarification about why the district land on County Road UU was unsuitable.

After about an hour of questions and answers, the commission voted to extend the district an additional 30 days. 

Paine Reliever April 16, 2012 at 01:23 AM
I just don't buy into the "traffic nightmare" we will have if building a school on the dog track. You have 4 lane road plus on and off lanes plus an overpass bridge to keep traffic moving on Carmichael. It was built 20 years ago to handle larger amounts of traffic than this school will add. Plus buses and cars will also cross 94 over the bridge by taco johns flowing back behind the dog track and on the exit4 bridge coming to the school from the south east. They can add 2 more entrances on the south and west side of the property as well. This will also reduce the bus congestion and take all the student cars out of the vine street area which is already traffic hell. Wait a minute, maybe the city planners are so fired up to put a H.S. on vine(Carmichael) or uu so the whole district can foot the bill for the road improvements the city should have done years ago at Carmichael and vine. And what about the "at capacity" waste water treatment plant?ayne a new scool at the dog track saves the city from having to make improvements for years to come We have been hearing for years that it needs major work if we annex any more property. Now the planning commission thinks it can be done. Will the whole district now subsidize a new treatment plant for the city as well?
Frazzle April 16, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Ahhhhhh......maybe you should have asked that last question to the school district for buying the land in the first place. Lets not start placing blame on the plan commission.
Paine Reliever April 16, 2012 at 02:21 AM
I don't place any blame on the plan commission for being wary of rezoning this property off the tax rolls. I blame them for over estimating the future tax income from a property that will probably have to be rezoned to light industrial to lure a buyer and kick in a tax free incentive to boot. Also, don't forget the district did request a zoning change prior to the referendum. The city decided to wait to see the result of that vote. Now we have that result I watched the video of the planning meeting and I think it is beyond ironic that the planners criticized the district for not researching other options when they have failed to plan for their own future. This referendum is a positive step to finally solving a problem. My estimation is that kids will be attending a new high school before the city fills the pot hole at vine and second. If the city is so concerned about lost tax income, why dont they approve the re-zoning for the dog track and then rezone the county property at vine and carmichael to general business/commercial? The businesses in the strip across the road are doing fine. And you know the county would love it Why won't the city talk about that?
Paine Reliever April 16, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Sorry if I sound jaded, but how many times have we heard about the financial windfall the dog track property will bring us? First as a state run dog track, second as a Indian casino. Third as a commercial Mecca with little hope of reality. I like the fourth option. It is the only one with a proven need and use that we can be proud of. The proven need is the growing enrollment history. The use is as a high school to be built and used now. Time to make it happen.
mainstreet April 16, 2012 at 05:38 AM
Wow. I don't have enough space here to respond but I'll try - 1. What ever the property is re-zoned to, except for the school, it will be tax producing. 2. The referendum was to buy the property, not build a school. 3. I hope we (as a community) address the "perceived" crowding problems. That can't happen until the SB wakes up. 4. Vine & second has nothing to do with it. Besides that, they can't fill potholes until the ground the settles. Plus there are a lot bigger problems then that everywhere! I drive it everyday and wonder what the problem is. But hey, Roy lives there! 5. I'm really not sure that the strip mall is thriving. You have one anchor there and the rest are changing yearly. Not what I would call "doing fine".
mainstreet April 16, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Personally i believe that the place would mint money as a casino. If they would (or will) have put a contingency in the deal that they couldn't sell food (or liquor for that matter), downtown restaurant wise would be twice what it is now. Think about that for a minute, and what it would mean for income to the city.
Frazzle April 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM
The plan commission would be premature to rezone prior to referendum and the SD was disrespectful to not rezone first. And guess what the owner of the land did not want it rezoned if the referendum failed. Thus it would never have been rezoned prior to referendum. If they would have made a decision prior the rezoning would have failed due ti the request of croixland properties. The city does not contingent zone. You should be glad the plan commission did what they and even more glad they gave the SD a month. I would look at your history before your next comment.
Paine Reliever April 16, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Ok, mainstreet here we go. 1. The property is only tax producing if something is developed. The city share now is $22,000 a year. My point is that there is no commercial interest, so it will be rezoned industrial and make it a tif district which means when and if a buyer develops, they will pay no taxes for possibly ten years. Bottom line. No guaranty of tax windfall. 2. You are mistaken, the referendum was to buy the land FOR A FUTURE SCHOOL. Said future secondary space right on the ballot. 3. If you think the continued enrollment growth has not created a need, your head must be in the sand. Blaiming the district every time they try to address it is not solving anything. 4. I was joking. My point is the city in my opinion has dragged its feet on needed improvements and now the planning commission is trying to make it look like the district didn't do the homework whe this discussion has been ongoing for over ten years. 5. Seriously? That strip is the only one in Hudson that stays fully rented. About your casino deal, show me a casino that doesn't have a resturant. Plus, there is an elementary school across the street. Good luck with that. That issue is dead, but funny with our recent history.
Paine Reliever April 16, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Freebird, here is the history you seem to miss. The district and the property owner requested the zoning change. The city said wait and see how the referendum goes (not wanting to appear as if they support it or not) the referendum passed. Your statement that the city does not"contingent zone" is debatable. Didn't the city contingent zone whe it set up the industrial park as a TIF district to lure businesses here? Some of those tenants did not pay taxes for 10 years. I am not saying it was wrong, the industrial park is great. I just want the city to be honest and realistic when predicting the value of the dog track to the tax base and how long it might take.
Paine Reliever April 16, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Mainstreet, to clarify point 2. The ballot was to buy the track for USE as future space needs for secondary education. The district has been clear that another referendum will be coming for the building itself. Sandy gehrke seems to be promoting the idea that the voters were confused because of her gaining the most votes and the dog track still passing. This is arrogance on her part. A bullet vote victory in a 6 person race does not make a mandate.
Thurston Howell III April 16, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Looks like the Public School bashers will never stop! Coulda, woulda, shoulda. There has been no private interest in the Dog Track for 2 decades now. Why would that change especially when there's commercial property already built sitting vacant! Let's get REAL people and get on with this. The Referendum was on the ballot, it passed. City of Hudson, let's stop being a wet blanket.
Frazzle April 16, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Contingent zone is not debatable. Ask ULINE
Carbon Bigfuut April 16, 2012 at 04:29 PM
A better location for a new high school with better traffic patterns would be the area south of the Nor-Lake plant, south and east of Hwy. 12. Plenty of roads, space, and all flat for future athletic fields. Probably a lot cheaper than the dog track property, too.
Micheal Foley April 16, 2012 at 04:38 PM
The River Channel's video of the meeting has just been added to this post.
Eagle April 16, 2012 at 07:36 PM
TH3, I do no see school bashing here. I only see questioning the property location for a new school. If the vast majority of students are North of 94 (only 400+ are south), why build a high school south? Why not built it in the Town of Hudson? Why does it have to be the city?
Paine Reliever April 16, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Eagle, It is important to be on city water and sewer. That eliminates rural sites. Also look at it this way, right now 400 of the 1600 students are coming across i94 from the south. If the H.S. is built at the dog track we would have 1100 students going to the dog track from the north but you would remove 100 percent of the high school student cars and added bussing that congests vine street. It is a trade off.
Eagle April 16, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Why exactly does it have to be on city water and sewer? Can a school not be built if it is not? I understand there may be a difference in construction cost, but really want to know why for lack of a better phrase "be built in a large field" outside the city?
Eagle April 16, 2012 at 08:45 PM
So the cars would greatly congest Charmichael waiting for the lights at Coulee Rd, then again before and after the 94 bridge, stopping again at Crestview, then again at Center Drive, then again at Hanley Rd. Not much help there I am afraid. Yes some will go an alternate route, but this will be the main route to the school. Who gets to pay for Charmichael road improvements because the traffic is so bad? I am guessing the city again. It is time to move beyond the city for a potential new school.
Paine Reliever April 16, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I understand your point eagle. Why not build out in a cheap field outside of town? I don't mean to be dismissive. But water and sewer is a huge cost for infrastructure. Also, many road improvement would have to be made to put a large school out in the country. It will be hard enough to pass any referendum for a high school, so cost needs to go into the building, not infrastructure. That is why the dog track is attractive. It is a blighted property, vacant for 10 years. It has the infrastructure. Also, we now have a clear path. If the property is rezoned, then we move forward with none of the hassle dealing with the county, township etc. This debate has been going on since the 8/9 referendum failed a decade ago. It is time stop the delay.
Frazzle April 17, 2012 at 01:35 AM
UU is available I hear? And it sounds like City water and sewer can be placed out there. And before someone mentions it is un-buildable, i would like that same person to then explain to me why we would go to referendum on un-buildable all those years ago.
Frazzle April 17, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Oh and the school district all ready owns it...oh and there is enough land....boy just keeps getting better and better.
Paine Reliever April 17, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Freebird, your statement brings up a big question. You say water and sewer could be run to uu. I assume you are talking about the planner at the meeting that said it could be done even though the mayor told the paper and the district on 2 different occasions the chance were slim to none and highly unlikely. Also it is against many planning and zoning laws. Yes it may be able to happen if the state, county, township and city all come to agreement. How long may that take and at what cost? Also, please ask the planner to explain the waste treatment plants capacity. We have been told any annexing would overburden the plant and we would need a costly overhaul going back to mayor Jack. I believe the planning commission didn't want to run water and sewer to river crest for the same capacity reasons. So I am asking how the same planners can now say this can happen no problem. If I thought a new high school could be built in 4 years on uu with city water and sewer for less $ than the dog track I might support it. Can you tell me freebird that you would support it? But without water and sewer, that property is unbuildable for a H.S. and I challenge the planners to address waste capacity before making promises. By the way, the old referendum was only for an 8/9 building. That was a different board and superintendent that went to referendum.
Frazzle April 17, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Different planning commmissin too than rivercrest. Oh but I see rivercrest is built. Oh and I would most definitely support UU. I believe if you listen to the meeting that was new information to the mayor too. I am thinking Thia is one if the reasons the plan commission gave the school 30 more days. I am more than certain the SD will say only the dog track would work. They are too far along to say anything else. 30 days only gives time for level heads to prevail in this situation and emotions to settle. Thia issue is solely about zoning not whether or not the members on the committee want a school.
Paine Reliever April 17, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I said before that there may be a way to run services out to uu but just because there is a way in theory, it changes nothing. It still may not work. One planning member saying it can happen at this stage is no guaranty. And his new information should be scrutinized with the same homework he demands of the district. What if the district follows his advice and years later the parties can't agree. Then what? I will stick with what we have, a passed referendum in which the majority of city voters approved the dog track plan. By the way, I have lived here long enough to understand the politics of this city. Nothing surprises me. I hope it does not get nasty, but many people claiming to support a high school at uu will change their tune when it is time to vote for it. Time to move forward.
Frazzle April 17, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I am glad you have years of wisdom to go on as far as politics go. But guess what times are changing and things are rough out there. It is time for everyone to work together to find a viable option for a school. The referendum passed for a school so put it in an area where rezoning is not necessary. Why is it so difficult to see a win/win in that situation. Geez...I question who really is being stubborn here.
SAM April 17, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I wonder what really will happen here. When the library referendum was defeated, the "powers that be" went ahead with their plan anyway. Now they say they don't have enough money to keep it running. Such a big surprise! What those with the most power want to happen will happen--no matter what! The nightmare traffic lights getting across an Interstate Highway that goes through our city will become many times greater nightmares. Two bridges have not been enough to get across already; why make it that much worse? Is that another of the hidden, unspoken costs? Kind of like the library--and it was even voted down!
Paine Reliever April 17, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Here is the catch freebird, we have a referendum vote to move forward based on (believe it or not) quite a lot of research and historical experience. It will be hard to walk away from that momentum. There are some in this community that never thought it would pass and now will do anything to try to make us forget it. They are the same people that now may be pushing the uu property to muddy the water with last second promises of water and sewer to uu. But if this referendum is dropped and a new push is made for uu, they will be the first ones to fight against it. Bottom line is that there is a loud minority in hudson that will fight any referendum for public education in Hudson whether we are bursting at the seams or not. It is another stall tactic. Forgive me if I am not trusting of everyone's motives and I have plenty of reasons to be stubborn in wanting this deal done. You put more value in the dog track importance to the taxpayer than I do. I have doubts it will be developed. It is ok to disagree. I think the vast majority of the voters that supported this plan assumed their vote gave the city a path to follow regarding zoning and may have something to say if the city handles this poorly. One thing I am sure of, your win/win scenario means going back to the drawing board again. The Stillwater bridge come to mind? Good discussion.
Frazzle April 17, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Well we need to remember it was the SD who asked for the 30 days. Not the City. There was not a big movement to my knowledge against a school this time. Between the police, library, road construction, the City is pretty strapped. I prefer to have faith that if the City is willing to work with UU or any other property that is properly zoned. Let's remember if UU would work we the taxpayer have been paying for it for years. Wouldn't it be great if the government entities could work together to make that happen.
Paine Reliever April 18, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I will agree that we both want the same thing only choosing different paths. Yes the city is strapped, but why? Not that I am really looking to get into that but I just want to be careful we don't tie the future success of Hudson to a parcel that has continued to be such a boat anchor for this community. Yes, the dog track, not uu. Uu can be sold to lower the cost of the new secondary space. We have i94 and all the cash that brings running right through our center. How come river falls could build a high school and fund a beautiful city library and staff a police and fire department without all the drama we see in Hudson? What are we doing wrong?
SAM April 18, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Maybe ask the "Me(a)" Party-- They are in control of it all. ALEC is in Hudson.

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