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Caledonia, Raymond strike development pact

Dustin Block
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A Racine County village would trade tax base for control over new developments along Interstate 94 in an agreement with a neighboring town.

The deal between the village of Caledonia and the town of Raymond would prevent the village from annexing town land within a mile of I-94. In exchange, Caledonia would control the type of development that can be built on Raymond’s side of the interstate.

The agreement, three years in the making, is a precursor to what both communities expect will be massive development along the interstate through northern Racine County, say officials.

The deal comes at a potentially steep price for Caledonia, which has the authority under state law to annex land from Raymond and claim all of the tax base for itself.

But Caledonia Village President Ron Coutts said the village has plenty of room for development without acquiring additional land that would need police and fire protection.

“We’ve got enough on our plate,” he said. “It was more important for us to work with our neighbors and work out some kind of an agreement.”

Ray Leffler, president of Newport Development Corp., Caledonia, said the agreement between Raymond and Caledonia would help developers. He said two projects in Racine County — an ethanol plant and a commercial camping company — were killed because neighboring communities objected to them. With an agreement, Leffler said, developers know what to expect.

“You have a stronger insight into what they (government officials) want or don’t want,” he said.

Under the border agreement, Raymond secures its eastern border along I-94 forever, said attorney Stan Riffle, who represented the town in the negotiations. Raymond gives up control over developments along I-94, but keeps the tax base generated by future projects, he said.

Initial plans called for Raymond to pay the village to prevent annexations, Coutts said. But after Raymond officials walked away from an initial proposal, Coutts negotiated a new no-payment agreement.

“This agreement has Raymond and Caledonia working together forever on land-use issues,” he said.

The town and village held a sparsely attended public hearing March 12 and are now waiting 60 days to send the proposal to the state Department of Administration for review. If state officials approve the deal, it goes back to Raymond and Caledonia officials for final approval.

Riffle and Caledonia’s attorney, John Bjelajac, said they do not anticipate further changes to the agreement.

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