Oak Creek — A new FedEx freight terminal may still find its way into Oak Creek, though it may be packaged with restrictions to satisfy concerns that initially delayed its approval.
The trucking terminal, proposed for 500 W. Opus Drive, was awarded a conditional use permit Jan. 17 by the Oak Creek Common Council in a 4-2 vote.
The terminal, which will be sold to FedEx by Opus Development Company LLC, was previously denied in November 2016 by the city's plan commission. However, the commission will get to impose conditions and restrictions on the development per the motion passed by the common council.
The council will review it again, with the conditions and restrictions, at a March 7 meeting.
Whether those conditions will satisfy neighboring residents is uncertain.
Four residents who spoke during public comment segment of the Jan. 17 regarding the development were all against it. Some raised health-related concerns tied to the anticipated diesel fumes. Others suggested the site is simply the wrong place for such a development.
"This is not part of a community that we grew up in," said Oak Creek resident Arden Degner. "This has to be denied."
Alderman Chris Guzikowski agreed with residents who said this is the wrong place for this development.
"FedEx would be a great corporate partner, just not there," Guzikowski said.
Also not inclined to move forward with the project at this location was Alderman Ken Gehl, who said such a project shouldn't be tucked into a residential neighborhood.
"We should not be just settling because they're here and here now," he said.
However, the location is, in fact, currently zoned for industrial, which Alderman Dan Bukiewicz pointed out could be a heavy-industrial use that could could generate a lot more noise and wouldn't be as regulated as the current proposal.
"We're better off approving them with conditions and restrictions," Bukiewicz said.
Brian Randall, an attorney with Friebert, Finerty & St John SC who represented FedEx at the meeting, described the changes in the plan for the nearly 50-acre parcel since the original proposal was denied.
One of the biggest changes is a reduction of dock area from 105,901 square feet to 91,500 square feet. Additionally, a fire access lane was added to the southwest corner of the development in response to city staff concerns, Randall said.
One of the biggest concerns in November was noise and light affecting nearby residential homes. As a result, Randall said, perimeter landscaping has been designed to shield the development from the neighborhood.
The proposal is a two-stage development, with the first phase including the dock area as well as 8,181 square feet of office space, a 9,760 square-foot maintenance building, a guard shack and fueling station. The second phase adds about 27,600 square feet of dock area and 8,246 square feet to the maintenance building.
The development also includes two 20,000-gallon underground fuel tanks and some outdoor storage.
The property would operate daily around the clock, with three shifts per day, according to city documents. Peak hours would be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first phase would see around 191 trucks in and 191 going out per day. Once the second phase is completed, that number would jump to 267 in and out per day.
Randall cited a traffic study which concluded that the surrounding infrastructure is sufficient for this use through 2027, assuming 1,500 daily trips.
Randall also stressed how the development would benefit the community in terms of jobs and taxes generated.
One focus was job creation. Randall said the first phase would include 192 total jobs, including 130 full-time. Once fully completed, Randall said the facility would generate 315 total jobs.
Salaries for full-time workers are expected to range from $20-28 per hour while part-time workers will get $17-18 per hour. Additionally, management positions are expected to offer salaries between $60,000 and $100,000 per year.
Randall said the current estimated appraised value of the development is $31.9 million.
"We believe we're bringing great value to the city," Randall said.
(The city disagreed, however, on that anticipated assessed value, saying estimates are closer to $12 million, according to an assessor. The biggest reasoning behind these differences seemed to be the construction cost – about $30 million – and the level of boost it would give to the property value.)
No TIF money
The site is part of the city's eighth tax incremental financing district but isn't part of the Oakview Business Park and no assistance through the district will be requested, Randall said.
Calling this proposal a "rarity," Alderman Steve Kurkowski said it's not too common to find a developer willing to make infrastructure repairs on their dime as well as to not ask for TIF assistance within a district.
He stated the parcel has sat idle for 15 years and was worried if this was denied it may sit for another 15.
Adding to Kurkowski's comments, Alderman Mark Verhalen said other properties may soon be available nearer to the freeway which could make this land a hard sell. Additionally, he said Oak Creek has welcomed a number of retail businesses which don't always offer high pay, as this development does.
"They'll be a good neighbor," Verhalen said.