CALEDONIA — An odd choice of words in a development agreement is continuing to make headaches for the Caledonia Village Board, and it poses a risk that could block development along Interstate 94.

A proposal from the New Berlin-based Venture Construction Group almost hit a snag when a request went before the Caledonia Village Board on Sept. 3.

Venture Construction was requesting a conditional use permit for a 14,800-square-foot building planned for 1331 27th St., Raymond, within the Interstate 94 corridor, just south of Seven Mile Road.

Under the cooperative plan between the villages of Caledonia and Raymond, commercial and/or industrial developments that don’t connect to sewer and water in the corridor (like the one proposed by Venture Construction Group) should only be allowed if the village boards agree that the development is of “Spectacular Use.”

Caledonia Village Attorney Elaine Ekes explained: “The intent of the agreement was always that the Raymond side of the border would not develop unless sewer and water be extended.”

She continued: “Caledonia has not been heavy-handed in enforcing the sewer and water rule, I think in part because we only recently got sewer and water to Highway K and you (referring to the Caledonia Village Board) didn’t want to hurt other communities’ growth. ... I haven’t seen Caledonia deny development on the west side of the interstate for quite a long time.”

Still, Trustee Fran Martin, a retired attorney, expressed trepidation in voting in favor of something she didn’t feel was of “Spectacular Use,” even though she supported the development itself.

“That language, requiring it to be of ‘spectacular use,’ is so stupid that it’s hard for me to vote ‘yes’ on these things because it’s meaningless,” she said. “If it was truly supposed to be of ‘spectacular use’ then it should be something different than a landscape yard.”

Village President Jim Dobbs, however, didn’t want an odd choice of language to stand in the way of development.

“It is what it is,” he said.

Venture Construction’s request passed by a 6-1 vote, with only Martin voting in opposition.

Not the first time

Issues have been raised over “Spectacular Use” for a decade now — the cooperative plan was adopted in November 2009.

In 2010, a letter to The Journal Times called for a proposed relocation of a truck terminal along the I-94 corridor to be stopped because a “truck terminal is not by any definition a spectacular use.” That truck terminal relocation was approved anyway.

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