Today is

Friday, July 24, 2009

Janesville Considers Expanding Industrial Base Into Farmland

When it comes to city growth plans, this has to be the worst of the worst.
JG Excerpt:
The Janesville City Council on Monday will consider adding 185 acres of vacant land to TIF No. 26 for industrial development. The land is being farmed but is zoned for industrial and residential.
Is it farmland? Well....uh...its zoned for industrial and residential development. But it's being farmed.'s vacant land. That's's vacant land! Is the owner paying property taxes based on typical city lot vacant land or is the owner paying pennies on the dollar in property tax taking advantage of Wisconsin's land-use assessment by paving it with crops? Huh...what business is this of yours? Why does this matter to you? It does matter because this is farmland, and the Gazette went to great lengths to avoid the term and the relationship in today's article misleadingly titled, "TIF district expansion would include GM plant." (The actual TIF boundaries does not include GM) Instead, the newspaper ran with comments from pro-sprawl city administrators spinning the request into a positive for the nearby and vacant industrial complex.

Not only is the city willing to expand its industrial base (or residential) into farmland, they are eager to accomodate the farmland owner(s) by drawing a tax incentive TIF district around it.

But it gets even worse. This farmland/industrial expansion is within 1/2 mile from the sprawling GM plant. And instead of taking a step back and looking at the folly of their position, the proximity of the farmland to over 300 acres of a wide assortment of existing prime, classic and vacant industrial buildings and supporting structures, including the GM plant itself - they call the passage of this breach against all common sense as an "opportunity."
JG Excerpt:
"The proposed TIF No.26 boundary amendment will add additional industrial lands that can be improved with municipal utilities and services to attract continued industrial industrial development."
Well, hardee-har and har. And to make sure no one should question the outcome of this request, particularly any snarky bloggers, environmentalists, genuine farmers, concerned citizens or other activists......
JG Excerpt:
If the council approves the amendment, it will be forwarded to the Joint Review Board made up of representatives from the city, school district, county and vocational school district.
So there!

The Gazette article also stated no public hearing is scheduled, and it's just as well. It probably wouldn't make any difference. In the past some guy (or gal) from Forward Janesville, the Fourth Ward neighborhood or the city's far NE side would step up and Kumbaya the same line, "I support our city leaders and visionaries who refuse to stand by and watch our city deteriorate. This TIF district and expansion over farm vacant land is just what we need to bring in jobs and increase our tax base."

It never fails.

"It's consistent with the city's Comprehensive Growth plan."

The TIF proposal on the city's agenda rambles on for 46 pages and builds a case for it by jumbling Wisconsin TIF laws in with various numbers showing the expected effects of the expanded tax base.

Well, that's good enough for me.

Agenda Excerpt:
City staff is proposing a third amendment to TIF No. 26 to add
approximately 185 acres of vacant farmland planned for industrial development.
City Staff is proposing? Did the landowner request the TIF inclusion? Or does the city just haphazardly draw TIF districts around working farmland without any regard to the owner? Or the farmers? Why isn't the landowner making the presentation requesting the amendment? Why aren't the landowners names, along with their preliminary plans, goals, intentions and interactions with the city documented in the proposal? Instead we get state statutes, historical charts and projections?Boundaries not exact - for demonstration only.

The irony: Had the owner(s) of the farmland approached the city or county requesting to change the residential and commercial zoning back to AG, the city administration would have vehemently protested stating something like, "That's a non-compliant request because its inconsistent with the city's comprehensive growth plan."

Note: This posting is not a position or attack against the farmland owners or their plans. They obviously have the right (within the law) to do as they please with their land.


Anonymous said...

What do you expect? This is the same mentality that expands schools during declining enrollment and now wants to expand the industrial base while existing structures are vacated. Wisconsin's motto might be "Forward" but its definitely backward where Janesville is headed.

Anonymous said...

Cities have sidewalks - not farms. Get used to it.

Post a Comment