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Big crowd expected at tonight's County Grounds hearing

April 20, 2010

Wauwatosa residents who want to voice support for or opposition to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's plans to build an engineering campus and research park on a portion of the County Grounds will have their opportunity at 7:30 tonight.

The Common Council will hold a public hearing at City Hall, 7725 W. North Ave., on two related issues. The first is whether to rezone a portion of the County Grounds at the northeast corner of Highway 45 and Watertown Plank Road. In addition to a graduate studies engineering and applied sciences campus, the proposal calls for creating a research park where small businesses and laboratories could operate, and converting the historic Eschweiler buildings into housing units.

The second portion of the hearing will consider whether to rezone a portion of the land as a conservancy district to protect the wildlife - from foxes to Monarch butterflies - and green space on the County Grounds.

The plan has proven contentious from the moment UWM showed interest in buying and developing the land. In March 2009, a Milwaukee County Board public hearing drew several hundred people. Some expected job creation and a synergy with the neighboring medical campus. Others feared destruction of the migratory path and roosting sites for the Monarch butterfly.

City officials expect to see a council chambers packed with residents from all over Milwaukee County.

The council is not scheduled to take any action on the rezoning requests tonight. Rather, the topic will be addressed April 27 at the council's Community Development Committee.

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