Village of Sussex - The Community Development Authority and the Village Board tonight unanimously approved the village spending $60,000 to begin the process of purchasing 120 acres of farm land for NAI/MLG of Brookfield to develop into a commercial park.
The money will be paid to the developer in the form of a Community Development Grant. The grant funds come from real estate tax revenues generated from tax increment financing districts, according to village officials.
The money will be used to conduct engineering and environmental studies of the site and close the real estate transaction with Johnson Bank, the owner of the land located on the west edge of the village near the intersection of Hwys.164 and VV.
The $60,000 will be paid back to the village when the land acquistion is completed, according to village officials. Village trustees have until September 28 to make a final decision whether to purchase the land.
However, village officials have refused to disclose the price of the land.
The village intends to create a new tax increment financing district to pay for the purchase of the land and provide streets, sewer, water and other public utilities for the private development.
Representatives of MLG, including Chairman of the Board Michael Moody, assured village officials the project could be successful because of what he described as a pent up demand for commercial parks that include industrial sites of two to ten acres.
"Built it and they will come," said Mooney, citing the famous phrase from the baseball movie "Field of Dreams"
However, about a half dozen residents spoke in opposition to the grant proposal. They argued the village should not use public funds to purchase land for private developers.
When residents tried to question village trustees about the project, the village attorney said "it is against the law" for trustees to answer the citizen's questions during the meeting.
The development authority and the village board meetings occured less than 30 minutes apart. During the meetings there were few questions and no debate about the grant proposal that was made public late Friday afternoon.
Prior to the votes, there was more than six months of private negotiations between the village staff and the developers.