By Kylie Balk-Yaatenen - September 6th 2023
The City of Milton voted Tuesday, to rent out 153.39 acres of land to farmers and put the money into the parks and recreation department to fund future expansions of Crossridge Park.
In 2013, the Milton entered into a pre-annexation agreement with Pierce Farms, Inc. in Milton. As part of the agreement, the developer was permitted to continue to lease the land for $1 per year until March 1, 2025 or until the city developed the parcel.
However, Pierce Farms has given notice it no longer is interested in farming the land.
The two options that council members had to vote on were; renting the land to another individual at a fair market price or use the land for an expansion of the Crossridge Park Prairie or other park use.
According to the city’s website, the parks and recreation department has been working to establish a prairie at Crossridge Park for the last decade. The prairie now encompasses approximately four acres of the park. A portion of the parkland was sold to the YMCA of Northern Rock County to construct a facility.
Continuing use of the land for farming would generate roughly $1,250 in revenue annually.
A Gazette article from 2019 said that for over 50 years, Pierce Farms sat on 175 acres nestled along the northeast corner of East Milton-Harmony Townline Road and Parkview Drive in the southernmost section of Milton.
Mike Pierce’s father, Gailen Pierce, bought the farmland in 1966. Gailen and Mike farmed the land for decades before Pierce purchased it from his father in 1995. Pierce farmed the land until he retired from farming over the course of the last couple years, he said.
Mike and his wife started to consider selling the land about 10 years ago and have since chosen to sell it all to developers piece by piece, he said in 2019.
According to the same article the former city administrator Al Hulick annexed the land in hopes to develop on it.
Eric Stockman, an alderperson on the common council said that he likes the idea of farmers bidding on it and taking the best offer.
“Even if we found someone today that wanted to develop that area, it’s going to take at least a year,” Stockman said.
Ryan Holbrock said he likes that idea because then it gives the city time to reevaluate and come up with a plan to turn all of that land into a park.
Theresa Rusch, an alderperson, said that it will give the city time to reach out to someone to fund the development.
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