Ryan Companies, the developers of the Mallard Project, hosted an informational meeting last night for the community at the Roberts Community Park Building. Here is what we learned:
1. The logistics
Of the 1.08 million sq. foot distribution center, 30,000 sq. feet will be office space and the rest merchandise storage. The 24 hour operational facility will also include over 1,000 parking spaces, 390 loading docks, about 130 daily trucks, 47 acres of green space and various legal agreements with the village.
The facility is planned to be 45 feet tall. A current Roberts ordinance caps buildings at 35 feet, however the board will hold a vote for an amendment for buildings up to 60 feet. A few other buildings in the village were approved to be taller than the ordinance, so this amendment was anticipated according to representatives from the Village.
All plans for the Mallard Project are contingent upon the Roberts Village Board approving the change to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, adjusting the property from being limited to developments of residential and commercial nature to light industrial.
2. The tenant of the building is still a mystery
The representatives of Ryan Companies were unable to disclose who would be occupying the building. The audience of community members were displeased, erupting in various comments about dishonesty and transparency. Ryan Companies acknowledged that they agreed with the concerns of residents and would divulge that information as soon as they could, likely prior to construction beginning.
“More information will come as time goes on,” said Dan Mueller, vice president of real estate development at Ryan Companies. “We hear you loud and clear.”
Concerns of how a company treats employees and what impacts other communities have had with the incoming company were important for many of the residents present at the meeting.
3. Addressing Twin Lakes
Currently, the development plan includes two storm water basins on the west side to divert runoff. The current landscape, void of any infrastructure, sends over half of the storm water that seeps into groundwater towards Twin Lakes. Instead of that uneven majority, with the adjustments of the development, 60 acres of runoff will be directed towards Twin Lakes and 60 acres will be directed towards the Kinnikinick River.
Dan Elenbaas, a civil engineer in land development at Kimley-Horn, said there would be no impact to the wetland that lies adjacent to the development. Additionally, there will be infrastructures in place to collect a layer of pollutants from seeping into the groundwater.
$2 million, upon approval, will be dedicated by Ryan Companies to go towards a solution to the flooding of Twin Lakes should the Mallard Project move forward.
4. Traffic, sound and light
Matthew Pacyna with transportation and municipal engineering at SRF Consulting was present to discuss traffic studies conducted as they relate to this project. Through partnerships with the Village of Roberts and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Ryan Companies was able to have studies conducted to anticipate traffic during a development year as well as 10 years into the future, along with patterns, peaks, etc.
Some of what they found led them to include the following plans:
Additional capacity and extra lanes on the 70th Avenue intersection and an anticipated traffic signal.
A second access point on the new Mallard Drive with either a signal, roundabout or turn lanes.
The DOT will monitor the roundabouts at I-94 over time.
Currently, there are no plans for highway 65.
These anticipated changes may even improve traffic, according to Pacyna.
Both sound and light studies were also conducted. Landscaping including about 460 trees and 12-24 foot berms, sound walls and quieter back up alarms for trucks are in the works to minimize sound disturbances. Lights will be casted down towards the parking lot to reduce any excess light pollution.
5. Tax Incremental District
TID’s are complicated. In short, a separate district will be approved by all jurisdictions involved, i.e. the county, village, public, schools, etc. A base level of tax revenue will be determined for said district. For the following 20 years, as long as the TID is not voted to be dissolved or terminated by a joint review board, revenue that exceeds the base amount will only be able to be used for eligible projects approved by the village.
It is estimated that this designated TID would provide about $50 million over 20 years for around 20 infrastructure projects. The purpose of the TID is to remove any financial and tax burden from the public for designated improvements within the district.
It is estimated that the facility within the village, with a population of 1,900, will have 800 employees. The minimum wage of the center is set to be $15 an hour with benefits.
There are currently no plans to have a bus into Roberts for employees of the facility or on site childcare. However, both of these ideas brought up by the community, will be taken to the company, said Ryan Companies.
Ryan stated that the company looks for three things when identifying a new location: quality of community, access to highway and access to labor.
All of the proposals are contingent on the approval of the change to the land use map by the village board.
Ryan Companies took written questions in order to compile an understanding of what is important to the community and said they will relay that information to the tenant of the building.
"The informational meeting gave our team the opportunity to learn about the community’s viewpoints on the proposed project," said Mueller. "It’s important for us to consider the impact it could have and committing to do what we can to support and invest in this community."
Hearings in both Roberts and Warren are scheduled:
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, and 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, at the Roberts Village Hall;
7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16, at Warren Town Hall.