Author: Kristyn Halbig Ziehm
Source: Ozaukee Press
Oct. 4, 2017
Council inks agreement with developer who says purchase is imminent despite bank’s marketing of land
Port Washington officials on Tuesday moved the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision one step closer to reality by approving a developer’s agreement for the project.
Developer Tom Swarthout of the Highview Group told aldermen that he’s nearing a deal to purchase the 240-acre parcel along Highway C, which is owned by Waukesha State Bank and as recently as last month was listed for sale.
“We are at that endpoint,” Swarthout said. “There are nine attorneys working on this closing.”
Swarthout, who said he’s been working on the proposal for 3-1/2 years, called it a “revolutionary” project with a plethora of green features, public access to the bluff and beach and a plan to create a publicly owned 101-acre nature preserve.
The development would be built in three phases, Swarthout said. The 72 lots on the east side of Highway C would be built in two phases, while the third phase will include 10 lots on the west side of the road near a winery that will be built using an old barn.
A vineyard would line the highway, creating a more rural feeling than a typical city development.
Even the landscaping plan is unique, Swarthout said, noting many of the trees to be planted will be fruit trees clustered together rather than spread throughout the development.
The developer’s agreement calls for the city to extend utility services from their current location on Division Street south to the development, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
It also calls for the city to construct improvements on Highway C, including a bike path, and to build a parking lot on the west side of the highway that will be used by people visiting the winery as well as those using public paths and visiting the nature preserve, he said.
While the parking lot will be built by the city, it will be the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the lot, he added.
There will be restrooms in the winery that can be used by the public, Grams added.
Streets and utilities within the subdivision will be paid for by the developer, the agreement states.
The agreement also calls for the city to pay for one of two lift stations that will help service any developments to the south of Cedar Vineyard, he said.
Ald. John Sigwart questioned the wisdom of having the homeowner’s association be responsible to maintain the second lift station.
“Half the time our homeowners’ associations can’t maintain themselves,” he said.
However, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt noted that the burden of maintaining the facility will fall not on the association but on the homeowners themselves.
The city’s improvements, which total about $6 million, will be paid through its tax incremental financing district, Grams said, noting that a financial analysis has proven the development will cover the costs of the improvements.
Ozaukee County, which will ultimately own the nature preserve within the development, has already signed off on the agreement, Swarthout said.
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