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Growth-minded sewer issue gains support

Approval process moves key city plans one step ahead

May 10, 2011

Franklin - A comprehensive growth plan dependent on a major sewer interceptor and the extension of a sewer service area that includes all of Franklin have gotten a boost from separate city actions.

The Common Council's approvals last week followed a mixed-review public hearing held by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, which according to City Engineer John Bennett is expected to support the service area approval when it meets next week.

"The regional planning commission usually supports the city's vote," Bennett noted.

While the service area designation permits, but does not require, sewer service, a vocal group of septic tank and mound system owners oppose the designation because they don't want MMSD fees but do want to preserve natural resources.

City and SEWRPC officials have noted that the natural resource issue is addressed in the city's growth plan and that any planned sewer system would need MMSD involvement, including an initial public hearing for each request.

Bennett said Franklin is the only Milwaukee County municipality not completely served by MMSD.

That fact does not concern residents who have their own sanitary systems, said lifelong resident Scott Mayer, 9733 W. Ryan Road, adding that the city's rural area residents covet their lifestyle.

"There are a lot of residents who came here to farm and they want to keep farming," Mayer said. "There are a lot of areas like Highway 36 and Rawson Avenue where there are sewers and they are not fully developed, so I don't understand why the city needs to do this now."

The "now" factor for the Ryan Creek interceptor, city officials said, is the result of a low-interest, $31 million loan through the State Clean Water fund and eventual payment assumption by the MMSD, theoretically making the system paid for by sources other than city taxpayers.

The Ryan Creek interceptor sewer is a gravity-based system that would run along Ryan Creek south of the intersection of 60th Street and Ryan Road to south 76th Street near Ryan Creek. It then would follow Ryan Creek west and north to the intersection of South 112th Street and Ryan Road, continuing west to existing and planned streets, according to the city's 2025 Comprehensive Master Plan.

Negotiating the rights of easements where they occur on private property will be ongoing through 2011 preceding the anticipated 2012 anticipated construction.

The sewer service area, according to Mayor Tom Taylor, provides the framework to achieve a property tax balance of 70 percent coming from residences and 30 percent from commercial entities in support of the Master Plan.

"Both the Ryan Creek sewer interceptor and the service area are important so that we can be ready to develop when there is an opportunity," Taylor said. "We have inquiries all the time from companies that are looking to locate or relocate, so we need to be able to have options. The 70-30 split is ideal so that we can keep taxes in line for residents."

The issue to completely grow as a suburb of a metropolitan area or to preserve at least some rural elements is not a new one, according to Taylor and Mayer. Though they see the future differently, each considers the other a friend.

"I've known the Mayer family for a very long time," Taylor said. "Scott's dad was my alderman and I have a lot of respect for the family. I know this is a tough time for some homeowners, but the community has needs."

Mayer noted," I like Tom and I think he has been a good friend and mayor. I guess I can support what would be the greater good for the city, but I think this deal with the state would still be good in five or 10 years from now. I just think this is happening too fast."

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