the ballpark commons development bulldozes taxpayer and resident objections
The City of Franklin Planning Commission ignored a multitude of questions and concerns at the meeting held December 21. Now this project moves forward to the Common Council for approval on Tuesday January 9th at 6:30 pm City Hall. The Planning Commission approved the ordinance amendments and the natural resources special exemptions. The concerts, go-karts and amusement rides would require a special permit. Which history shows that the City issues this developer permits ON the date they are applied for instead of the normal 30 prior to the event date processing to allow for an event 11 days after the application was submitted. The latest plan for Ballpark Commons includes clearing 23.08 acres of protected natural resources. This area is part of the largest continuous natural environmental corridor in Milwaukee County. Included in the clearing is 10 acres of wetlands (nearly all on the site) and 10.87 acres of mature woodlands (out of the total of 12.05 acres of mature woodlands). Did the County know this would be part of this project before they proposed to sell the land to a developer group for the ultimate price of $1. The plan is being pushed by some County officials as a means to provide budgetary savings to Milwaukee County taxpayers. But the developer admits on 12/21/17 he does not have insurance for this project. That the County agreement involves them being responsible. The County is "self insured" which means they do not have insurance, and that the taxpayers will be responsible for funding the problems that occur at this site. City officials have yet to receive regulatory approval for the landfill disturbance; or define how this former EPA Superfund eligible site will be developed safely for neighbors that live nearby or for residents still on groundwater or even visitors to the site. County leaders have provided little to no information on how Milwaukee County will manage liability for the toxic wastes disposed by the County. This taxpayer liability survives any sale of the land. The current plan is for the developer to create a single purpose limited liability company to provide an indemnification to taxpayers. But the plan identifies no funding or developer guarantees for managing unanticipated events. The City has not supplied the residents the final price tag for this development. There is no 265,000 sq ft tournament sized building and luxury apartments that were used to justify the creation of this PDD and TID. Now there are "market" level apartments, a golf range, restaurants that are recycled storage containers and a 25,000 sq ft indoor sports building. All those pretty pictures that have been shown on the City of Franklin website for years and reported by the newspapers were incorrect from day one.
Ballpark Commons has been presented to citizens of Franklin as private development that would represent "adaptive reuse" of a landfill that could benefit the community. While few citizens have expressed opposition to private development on properly zoned private land, many have expressed reservations for disturbing a large publicly owned landfill while it is producing significant amounts of waste gas and other emissions. City and County officials now want to ignore the site's prior hazardous ranking score that made it eligible for the EPA’s national priority listing of dangerous sites. And as troubling, government officials show little appetite for discussing the public costs for enabling the development. This website is organized under several tabs to share information and documents in order to discuss these issues in more detail. As you navigate the site you can obtain more information on the following: public spending, environmental issues, zoning, development feasibility and what you can do to get involved.
As an example of available information here is a recent citizen analysis of WDNR and Milwaukee County Environmental Section files and a formal complaint to the EPA, September 2016.
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