Grant for Cedar Vineyard project set to expire

Officials seek extension for $1 million award as Port bluff subdivision, nature preserve project remains stalled
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee County officials are working to extend the deadline for one of the two $1 million grants needed to purchase a 101-acre nature preserve in the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision on Port Washington’s southeast side.

The Wisconsin Coastal Management grant is set to expire at the end of March, but officials are in talks with the agency to extend the deadline, Ozaukee County Director of Planning and Parks Andrew Struck said Wednesday.

The county is seeking a six-month extension, Struck said, adding he is confident it will be approved.

“That shouldn’t be an issue,” he said. “I don’t envision any hiccups. The funds are obligated already.”

The grant will pay for half the cost of purchasing the preserve — tentatively named the Cedar Heights-Clay Banks Nature Area — with the other share of the cost coming from a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources stewardship fund grant in a deal worked out by the county and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

The stewardship grant deadline has already been extended, Struck said.

The grant funds would be used to buy the most environmentally sensitive areas of the Cedar Vineyard property, including Cedar Gorge.

The preserve is a key component of the Cedar Vineyard development, which would include 82 half-acre lots surrounded by a vineyard along Highway C and a winery on the west side of Highway C south of Stonecroft Drive.

The plan is to have the Highview Group, which is developing the subdivision, purchase the entire 227-acre parcel from Waukesha State Bank and almost immediately sell the preserve land to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

The Land Trust would then transfer the preserve to Ozaukee County, which would hold it in perpetuity.

Deadlines to purchase the property have been in flux — a December closing date was postponed after issues arose with the appraisal of the land. 

Developer Tom Swarthout said this week he is working on these issues and is ready to move quickly to buy the land once those are resolved.

“All the documents are in order,” he said. “The project has been bid out. We have most of our permits in hand.

“We’re determined to get this thing to the finish line. We are going to close.”

Swarthout said there have been some “challenging appraisals” on the property that have delayed the purchase of the land, adding he and his partners are “working through clarification of some issues of the value of lakefront property.”

“We’re working to update a prior appraisal done a year ago by a local appraiser who understands the area and the value of Lake Michigan property,” he said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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