The Pritzker Military Archives project, proposed for 288 acres near I-94 in Somers, captured unanimous support from the Village Board Tuesday after winning the favor of local residents who initially opposed the plans.
Trustee Jackie Klapproth Nelson called the change in sentiment from the public after Tawani Enterprises removed the proposed outdoor shooting ranges from the plans “a great American democracy story.”
Hundreds of residents attended a public hearing before the Plan Commission in September to oppose the plans, largely due to the proximity of the proposed shooting ranges to a subdivision, day care center and church.
“The fact that the developer and residents came together after what was a horrible Plan Commission meeting was rather remarkable,” trustee Jackie Nelson said. “Two hundred people signed papers supporting this project, and that is a complete, remarkable turnaround.”
The revised site plan for the property, located south of Highway E between I-94 and 100th Avenue, was unanimously approved by the Plan Commission and Village Board. It allows for the development of:
Pritzker Military Archives: These facilities will be located on the highest point of the property, on the northeast corner. The spaces will support the Pritzker Military Museum & Library’s mission to preserve the past, present and future of the citizen soldier.
Firearms Education & Training Center: The center will be built underground. It will feature an air filtration system that will exceed Environmental Protection Agency standard guidelines.
Cold War Memorial: A space to reflect and honor those who served from 1945 to 1991.
Commercial Archives: High-tech archival facilities to lease to other organizations and individuals.
Community green space: Dedicated public access to walking and bike paths and picnicking areas.
Of the total 288 acres, 105 acres are unbuildable due to wetlands, floodplain issues, setbacks and right-of-way issues.
“I think this development brings diversity to our community,” Nelson said, referencing the history and education elements of the project.
Nelson added the project includes a significant amount of green space “a warehouse development would never give” the village.
In an effort to address concern from residents that this may not be the “highest and best use” of property along the interstate, the village and its financial consultant undertook a financial review of the value it will bring to the village.
Assistant village administrator Jason Peters said the village currently collects $7,700 in taxes from the land under its agricultural zoning. All taxing entities collect a total $27,000.
Based on the estimated value at build out of more than $60 million, and using the current tax rate, the village would collect $307,000 when outside the Tax Incremental District. Only 10 acres of the property will be tax exempt.
The amount all taxing bodies would collect would be $1.3 million.
“We did look at the financial impact quite a bit,” trustee Karl Ostby said, adding the infrastructure will open up more acres for development. He also noted the village did not have to provide any incentives.
Trustee Gregg Sinnen and Nelson said they were satisfied with the financial benefits of the project.
“The entire community will benefit from the dollars that are going to be generated from this,” Nelson said.
In addition to approving the new site plan, the Village Board unanimously approved the comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning requests contingent on execution of a development agreement that establishes the following:
Outdoor shooting ranges/sporting clays ranges will be permanently prohibited on any portion of the property.
The developer will pay the full cost for the design and construction of the sanitary sewer and municipal water systems.
Construction of all buildings will require final design review by village staff.
The developer will be financially responsible for all internal and external roads or traffic improvements required by village ordinance or Kenosha County.
A recapture provision will allow the developer to recover a prorated portion of the costs paid by the developer for the extension of municipal sanitary sewer and/or municipal water for benefited properties not owned by the developer and identified by the village engineer.
The developer will pay all normal and customary building fees and make a voluntary payment in lieu of impact fees.
Peters confirmed that residents within the utility path of the project will not be required to connect to the water system.
Infrastructure construction is expected to begin in June.