Claims are absurd
I am not shocked by Terrence Wall’s intimidation lawsuit against the village. I do find many of the claims bizarre.
$49 million in losses. I hope the village clarified how long it takes to make that money. Let’s just say it’s 27 years (how long it’ll take the TID to close). I hope the village verified the approximate $1.5 million/year against his TIF application. If that includes his requested property tax abatement, his claims are absurd. He is willing to ask the village to subsidize his business and then sues us for profits we would have been subsidizing anyway?
I cannot claim to know what passed at closed door meetings, but I do take Todd Schmidt at his word when he told me Terrence pitched a Main Street project and went to Second Street without Village knowledge. Similarly, I did not attend the January 8 listening session, but I find the claims made against Chris Zellner difficult to believe. Even if Mr. Zellner did suggest he asked for his brother’s opinion, I wonder what in particular Terrence found so offensive. Isn’t he secure enough about his project to believe other developers support it?
Besides, Brad Zellner is a resident of Waunakee and entitled to an opinion. It isn’t like Brad Zellner’s redevelopment is competing with Terrence’s. They are different market segments in different locations.
Claiming Erin Moran voted against the project because her family’s home value might decline is in direct opposition to claims Terrence made at his first listening session, which included that properties near his developments loved him and their values always went up. What’s the real story here?
Finally, not a single person involved with the village met with the group of neighbors outside of public forums. Certainly, they did not offer assistance to oppose the rezoning. A former Maple Bluff trustee alerted us to the petition to block rezoning.
The sum total of these claims confirms they are a grasping absurd nuisance. Thank you to those with legal expertise who have volunteered to fight this. I am happy to help.
T Wall exaggerates village support
I finished reading the ridiculous claims that T. Wall Enterprises Wisconsin LLC and Main Street Waunakee LLC made against the village.
If Terrence was ready in 2012, where was his official board presentation? Nothing can be commented on or approved until there is a formal submission of plans to the Village.
Wall states that the Village Administrator Todd Schmidt told him that the Village would rezone the property and approve a Tax Increment Finance district. Todd Schmidt had no vote in whether or not a rezone would happen or if a TIF would be allowed. Those decisions are for our elected officials who answer to Waunakee residents.
Wall states he received favorable feedback from the Plan Commission in December 2017, yet the meeting minutes state, “The developer made a presentation of a concept plan for a 4 story mixed use building on 2.57 acres in the downtown area. The approximately 175-unit complex would be phased in over 3-5 years. The Plan Commission stressed the residential feel and had some concern with the massing of a 4 story in this neighborhood. No action taken.”
Wall claims that at the Jan. 4, 2018 listening session President Zellner said he reviews all development plans with his brother, and if his brother does not approve, then he will not support the development. This is just simply not true. I was at that session and not once did I hear Zellner discuss his brother.
Wall claims that Zellner led efforts to deny the request for rezone. This effort was not led by Zellner; rather, it was by Village residents writing, attending meetings and expressing concern that the development was not right for that neighborhood.
Pertaining to the Jan. 8 and 29 Plan Commission meetings: On Jan. 8, many Village residents voiced strong opposition to Second Street homes being placed in the TID. The Plan Commission indicated that they agreed with the residents that the homes should NOT be put into the TID. Residents assumed that meant those homes wouldn’t be in the TID. Therefore, the residents against the inclusion (which is most of the Village) did NOT attend the Jan. 29 meeting. The residents who attended the Jan. 29th meeting were the Second Street homeowners and Wall supporters who were in favor of putting Second Street into the TID. The vote did just that. Had residents known the issue was still “in doubt,” they would have attended en-masse. Even Herzberg, chairman of the Plan Commission that night, stated that he wished everyone from the Jan. 8 meeting had attended that Jan. 29 meeting. So all those voices in opposition weren’t there, and were blindsided by this reopening of the discussion. At every meeting I attended, plan commission members stated that the development was not right for that area and was too large.
Claims are ludicrous
I read last week’s article regarding the ludicrous claims T. Wall is making against the village. First of all, none of the village’s conversations going back to 2012 with Wall other than Madison and Main were known to the public. Village Administrator Todd Schmidt noted in the Nov. 30, 2017 Tribune that “there is no immediate plan” for the redevelopment of TID 8 properties (including T. Wall’s), yet T. Wall presented his proposal only 11 days later. Wall claims Schmidt told him the village would give him a rezone and a TIF district. Todd Schmidt doesn’t get a vote on rezones or TIF districts. The village board is above him in the chain of command and they should be making these decisions, not Mr. Schmidt. In addition, Village President Chris Zellner recused himself from the TID 8 discussion on Jan. 29 because the boundaries involved his brother’s proposed senior apartment project on the Legion site, unrelated to T. Wall’s luxury apartment plan. However, he did not recuse himself from the discussion at the Jan. 8 meeting. Likewise, the claim inaccurately mentions that Mr. Zellner led the efforts to deny the rezone. In reality, constant pressure from the community on the Village Board and staff actually caused the denial. Throwing Trustee Moran under the bus is frivolous. In the Feb.15 Tribune, Mr. Wall notes that multi-family complexes in single-family neighborhoods increase property values. The only reason he would include Trustee Moran in the claim is because her family’s property value would decrease! It is fascinating to note that all the Plan Commission meetings and listening sessions T. Wall is using as evidence were not videotaped. Where is our village going? Please consider running for Village Board this spring. You can already file a campaign registration statement and get started. All the information you need can be found at www.vil.waunakee.wi.us/178/Becoming-a-Candidate.
Exclude block from TIF district
If Terry Wall actually expects to earn $49 million in profits from his proposed Main/Second Street project, he does not need or deserve one thin dime of TIF incentive money. The boundaries of TIF district 8 should be shrunk to exclude T Wall’s project block. If he wants to bring a new proposal that would (for the first time), conform to our zoning ordinances and comprehensive plan, maybe it would merit consideration. I’m not holding my breath.
Residents opposed T.Wall development
As most Waunakee residents probably know, T.Wall filed a lawsuit against the Village, specifically, the village board and administrator Todd Schmidt. Wall claims Schmidt specifically told him in 2016 that the village would approve the Second Street rezone, and also approve a TIF/TID for Wall’s proposed area because the village had a particular interest in redeveloping Second Street.
First of all, Schmidt has no vote: he works for the board, at least in theory, if not in practice. And the board works for us, the residents, again, at least in theory. Schmidt, if Wall is to be believed, did not have the right or authority to make that claim to Wall.
In 2004-05, Milton town officials secretly negotiated a development deal with United Ethanol to construct an ethanol plant, promising $800,000 in subsidies, and to have Milton borrow $3 million to pay for infrastructure improvements as enticements to United. The deal was hidden from the public until February 2005 when the city council approved the agreement and issued a conditional use permit without discussion or public input. Citizens for Responsible Development (CRD) sued, but a circuit court judge ruled Milton didn’t violate any laws. CRD appealed. The 4th District Appeals Court ruled the 2005 conditional use permit issued by Milton officials was illegal because Milton held too many closed sessions in reaching an agreement with United, violating the state’s open meetings law. (March 20, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article). Sound familiar? Todd Schmidt was Milton’s city administrator.
This ridiculous lawsuit is exhibit A as to what can go wrong when officials don’t properly hold developers to the letter of the law, which in Waunakee’s case, is our Comprehensive Plan. Our board has too often cut corners, ignored ordinances or simply changed ordinances after the illegal actions and/or votes took place. When many of us realized what was going on, we mobilized and tried to alert the residents. When our board took up the issue of whether to raise our maximum height to 55 feet, to let Hovde add a fourth story setback on its downtown development, we gathered over 250 signatures (in just three days) opposing the approval of raising the height. The board dismissed the petition and voted to raise it.
Chris Zellner, of course, did not lead the opposition to Wall. We, the residents of Waunakee, did. We attended board and plan commission meetings; we lobbied our officials to listen to what their constituents wanted, and to stop acting like paid agents of every developer looking to cash in.
And what did our efforts evoke? A flurry of bristling outrage from some members of the administration that we were sullying the good name of hard working officials by accusing them of too often acting on behalf of developers and not representing us.
Now Waunakee and its residents have been potentially put in financial jeopardy by some actions of our town administration. Waunakee is currently in debt to the tune of about $40 million.
Waunakee is becoming a feeding trough for developers. Who really wants all these monstrous apartment complexes built here? The Chamber of Commerce, a majority of the town administration, and the developers. Who’s opposed? Essentially, all the residents of Waunakee.
Last April, we voted off two incumbent trustees who were among those who approved Wall’s TIF/TID, and the inclusion of the Second Street block into that TID. Five months from now, the village is holding another election. We need to take control of our town. The lawsuit is one of many reasons why we must have new leadership in Waunakee. Enough of this nonsense.