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OAK CREEK - The FedEx terminal set to be constructed on Opus Drive will have to comply with 89 conditions and restrictions put forth by the city's plan commission and approved March 7 by the common council.

The condition-laden approval comes after months of debate, dating back to November when the proposal was initially rejected by the planning panel only to have aldermen accept the development in January – that is, pending additional considerations about what FedEx would have to agree to do to gain final approval.

As part of the process, the council asked the plan commission to create a list of conditions and restrictions to help alleviate concerns from nearby residents. The resulting 89-item list covers issues concerning storage, lighting, screening, landscaping, noise abatement, idling, and fuel tank compliance – the latter for the two planned 20,000-gallon underground tanks.

Brian Randall, an attorney with Friebert, Finerty & St John SC who represented FedEx at the meeting, said the project will cost FedEx over $30 million – an increase from the original plan due to the added conditions and restrictions.

FedEx is also putting in improvements off-site, such as asphalt on Opus Drive, a water main loop and a traffic signal at Opus and Oakwood, as well as relocating a sewer main.

The proposal is a two-stage development, with the first phase including a 91,500-square-foot 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 will add about 27,600 square feet of dock area and 8,246 square feet to the maintenance building.

Lasting concerns

Even with all of the conditions spelled out and concerns well vetted over the course of many months, the decision to approve the plan wasn't unanimous, and residents still wanted one more chance to comment on the development's impact.

The motion last week passed 4-2, with Aldermen Ken Gehl and Chris Guzikowski voicing their opposition.

Gehl's concerns revolved around the city's noise ordinance which doesn't regulate moving vehicles. He said he was worried about the significant traffic the trucks would create in addition to school buses during peak hours.

Siding with residents who suggested this project could work better at a different location. Guzikowski said he has always been opposed to the project at this particular site.

And during public comment segment of the meeting, some residents likewise again expressed concerns about the impact of the development on property values, health (due to diesel fumes), noise (even with a 62-decibel limit as one of the conditions), and traffic with the added trucks on the roads.

Previously, Randall said the first phase would see around 191 trucks in and the same number going out per day. Once the second phase is completed, that number would jump to 267 in and out each day.

Support for plan

But the four aldermen who voted in favor of the FedEx plan noted there were pertinent reason to do so.

Alderman Mark Verhalen made the comparison to people who were opposed to the work on the Drexel Avenue interchange, noting that project set the groundwork for Drexel Town Square to be developed. And, he added, there are always people opposed to development no matter where it is.

"If we move it we're going to get the same thing, opposition, opposition, opposition," Verhalen said.

Alderman Dan Bukiewicz, who coincidentally was appointed mayor at the same meeting, said while the FedEx development might be more palatable if it was in a different place, such a use is in fact allowed on the site where it's proposed.

"They are where they are and they're allowed to be where they are," he said. "We're trying to do the best we can within the parameters."

Alderman Steve Kurkowski sympathized with resident concerns but said everyone has to look at the bigger picture.

"(You need to) put aside personal feelings and make a decision for the city as a whole," he said. "It's a tough vote, but I'm in support of it."

Kurkowski said the current FedEx terminal on 27th Street in Franklin is too small and inadequate for them now which is why they want to move.

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