The Greenfield Common Council may call a special meeting in the next few weeks to consider putting plans to redevelop the Loomis Road-Interstate 894 area on hold.
Many business owners fear the city will use its eminent domain powers to acquire their properties, and Greenfield officials have come under fire for keeping it on the table.
The council may now discuss dropping redevelopment plans altogether, Mayor Michael Neitzke said.
"Among the council, there's a strong desire to just put this matter behind them," he said.
The city has planned for several years to build a mixed-use project called Greenfield Crossing and has declared that area "blighted," a key step in the eminent domain process.
An attorney representing the Community Development Authority was directed Monday to contact all property owners and report back on negotiations in two weeks, Neitzke said.
Any development could not happen for another three years anyhow because the state is using the Loomis Road Park-and-Ride as a staging area for the Interstate 94 construction project.
"That whole area is going to be used as a staging area for the state and there's nothing the city can do about that," Neitzke said. "Maybe it makes sense for the city just to wait until the state is out of there and see what the options are."
State Sen. Mary Lazich entered the fray in the redevelopment discussions on Tuesday, saying she will introduce legislation clarifying state laws on eminent domain and the term "blight."
"The statutes have to be clear enough to protect property owners from unjust use of eminent domain and to protect local governments from the waste of time and money that accrues from the challenge and defeat of improper use of eminent domain," Lazich said.
In an interview, Lazich said many states have already addressed eminent domain laws following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case in 2005, which allowed local governments to acquire properties through eminent domain and sell them to another private owner.
But this state isn't one of them, she said.
"Unfortunately in Wisconsin law, there's a loophole large enough for a herd of animals to jump through," she said, referring to the "blight" declaration.
Neitzke said he hopes those changes go through, saying the city has few options when it comes to redeveloping a given area.
While the area under consideration is 47 acres, talks in the last week have centered on one property in particular - Bill Maynard's Auto Service, 4061 W. Loomis Road.
Alderwoman Linda Lubotsky last week released a statement saying the Maynard property should be excluded from the city's redevelopment plans, and others who spoke to the city's Community Development Authority on Monday said they feel the same way.
Reached Tuesday, Maynard said he is frustrated the city has not committed one way or another.
"We just want to stay, operate a profitable business, contribute to the community like we always have and just be left alone," Maynard said.
Neitzke has previously said eminent domain was one possibility, but that philosophically he "is against the city replacing one successful commercial enterprise with another."
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