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Town reviews plans for sports field on Hwy. 12

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Town reviews plans for sports field on Hwy. 12
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Revised plans were handed out to the Hudson Town Board at its meeting Tuesday, March 3, for the proposed St. Croix Sports Complex along Hwy. 12. The plans addressed issues from the state Department of Transportation.

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The sports complex will consist of four conjoined baseball fields and a parking lot for approximately 220 vehicles. In an effort to raise funds, owners plan to sell ad space along the fields, however DOT regulations state that none of the signage from the field can be visible from the highway.

"The DOT takes no prisoners when it comes to signage," said town Chair Jeff Johnson.

The signage restrictions are in effect because the lot is currently zoned agricultural/residential. Ed Hendricks, one of the developers, addressed these concerns at the board meeting. He said a combination of shrubs, bushes, trees and mesh screens could be used to prevent visibility of the 4-by-8-foot signs from the highway.

We won't do it if it doesn't look good or doesn't comply with the regulations," said Hendricks. Under the presented plan, the developer plans to use two staggered rows of 8-foot trees to block visibility from the highway and take further steps if necessary. The Town Board also agreed to give the developer a reasonable amount of time to remedy any issue should something be found to be out of compliance.

Other issues addressed were the location of dumpsters and overflow parking. The developer has plans for a "secure, screened location" for the dumpsters, and overflow parking is currently planned on the grass field next to the parking lot if it becomes necessary. The park is scheduled to open sometime between mid-summer and fall of this year.

Home business dispute

Cadwell Landscaping, 357 Krattley Lane, was the subject of a five-page letter of complaint from next-door neighbor Richard D. Thompson. In the letter, Thompson argued that Cadwell Landscaping, formed in 1997, had grown beyond the simple home-based "lawn care and snow removal" business. He said it is now a larger landscaping company, with outside employees, which would violate local home business statutes. He said his home business special exception, that was awarded in 1999, should be revoked and that the business should be located in an industrial park.

Other concerns in the letter included excessive noise generated by equipment, foul language being used by employees, idling engines producing pollution and the possible improper cleaning and disposal of fluids at the home, which may affect Thompson's nearby well. This is the first complaint the Town Board has received about this particular home-based business.

Cadwell and his attorney responded to the concerns, saying that employees do indeed park at the home, but will now park at a nearby park-and-ride lot. However, they denied the noise and pollution complaints, as well as the fact the company has grown, claiming that "it's the same as it's always been."

Cadwell also claimed that he has had no other complaints from other neighbors in the 12 years he has been running the company. Another neighbor of Cadwell's also attended the meeting to testify to this fact, and that he has never been bothered by any sort of excessive sound coming from the Cadwell property.

In response to the pollution complains, Cadwell pointed out that he is not only active in environmental support, but has received an award in Minnesota for his environmental work.

"This is one of those items you dread," said Johnson. "You have to try to find a reasonable compromise, but we won't find a solution to please both parties."

After reviewing both testimonies, the special exception and minutes from the 1999 meeting, Supervisor Gale Qualls said he was "not sure if the special exception still fits." The minutes from the '99 board meeting do not mention landscaping at all, simply lawn care and snow removal which, to the objection of Cadwell's attorney, many on the board agree are not exactly the same.

"It's great that your business is growing," said Supervisor Dave Ostby. "But it seems the character of it has changed." Chair Johnson agreed, saying, "If this request came in today, it wouldn't be approved."

While no official decision was made on the special exception, the Town Board agreed to issue a few orders to Cadwell Landscaping: All equipment must be stored inside, minus a trailer and truck, he must do all in his power to mitigate any noise, and employees need to be picked up off-site unless Cadwell is having them work on his own yard. The Town Board will revisit the issue during its May meeting.

Wrap-up

The Town Board has granted Supervisor Dave Ostby $500 to buy office supplies from an upcoming 3M auction.

The Smithsonian has asked to use the Town Hall for an exhibit on ethnic foods. The Town Board has voted to deny the application.

The next meeting of the Hudson Town Board is set for Tuesday, March 31. There will be elections on the regularly scheduled date of Tuesday, April 7.

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