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Mequon School District pursues sale of 111 acres

Decline in enrollment makes lot an unnecessary asset

May 21, 2014

Mequon — The Mequon-Thiensville School Board will soon be asking voters for permission to sell a large piece of farmland it has owned since the 1960s.

The school district purchased the 111-acre lot in 1964 and 1965, at a time when school enrollment was booming and there seemed to be potential for another school. Now, as Mequon has seen a 10.6 percent decline in enrollment over the last nine years, the district hopes to sell the land bounded by Swan and Wauwatosa roads, just north of Donges Bay Road and south of the Brighton Ridge and Knight's Ridge subdivisions on Mequon Road.

Superintendent Demond Means said the land has become more valuable with the Mequon Common Council's decision to route sewer and water services to that area. The lot is part of the city's "central growth" area, where zoning has been reduced from five acres per lot to one acre per lot.

"Without sewer and water services, and without the zoning being reduced, that area was not very attractive to a developer," Means said. "By the city of Mequon designating that land as a central growth area and making those significant changes, it has increased the value of the land we own, and as such, we now believes it's a proper point to pursue a sale of the land."

Pursuing a sale

When the city council finalized its central growth plans in March, the school board decided at its April 28 board meeting to put the land sale issue before voters on the July 21 annual meeting agenda. At that meeting, all city residents will have an opportunity to vote on whether the school district should pursue the sale of the land. If voters reject the measure, the land cannot be sold.

Means said a real estate appraisal indicated the land would be worth $1.9 million. Currently, the district rents the land to a farmer for $19,600 per year.

If voters authorize the school board to sell the land, and if a developer makes an offer the school board deems acceptable, then the board has decided to use the revenue from the land sale to pay off the district's non-referendum debt, which is about $1.6 million.

Preparing a mailing

The school board is preparing an informational document explaining the potential land sale to residents. The document will be posted online and will be mailed to all residents in the school district on June 16.

School Board President Mary Cyrier said she hopes the public is engaged in this issue and attends the annual meeting in July.

"As we look at our assets, it's in our fiduciary responsibility to look at things and evaluate whether we need this asset or not," she said. "It makes sense right now to ask the community to weigh in."

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