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Tosa sends message about power line routes

Council wants impact on neighborhoods, green space limited

Feb. 7, 2012

The Common Council has taken a stand to promote the preservation of natural green spaces and existing neighborhoods.

Aldermen on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to oppose construction of power lines, additional towers or other structures in or along any Milwaukee County parkway or natural areas or established neighborhoods.

Written by Alderman Dennis McBride, the resolution is a response to a We Energies and American Transmission Company proposal to supply additional electrical power to the Milwaukee County Grounds.

The document opposes any route that would place power lines "along or through parks and parkways, the Oak Leaf Trail, or high-quality wetlands and natural areas owned and managed by Milwaukee County or the city of Wauwatosa, or the Metropolitan Sewerage District." The resolution calls for burying any transmission lines along Underwood Creek Parkway.

Tuesday's vote came one week after the Committee on Community Development approved the resolution, 6-1.

City Attorney Alan Kesner reiterated the city's intention to use a Madison attorney to represent its interests through the regulatory process.

Still support growth

Prior to the vote, McBride emphasized that his resolution is not intended to be purely a rejection of bringing power to the County Grounds. In fact, he said that the area is the most ripe for economic development.

"The west side of the city is where economic development will occur," McBride said. "We will never on the east side have overhead power lines run through our neighborhoods. We want to be pro economy. We need to find a way to get power into the County Grounds."

Opposition specifically targeted two proposed high-voltage power line routes: Route A along Walnut Road from about 120th Street through the County Grounds and Route B, along Underwood Creek Parkway from the County Grounds to 120th Street or potentially routing a portion of the line between 120th and 115th Streets through a natural section of Underwood Creek.

Grass roots victory

The council's vote was a welcome relief to about 20 representatives from Preserve Our Parkway, the citizens group that supported McBride's resolution.

"We are very happy about this," said Kit Hansen, Preserve Our Parkway president. "We have been working with elected officials and conservation groups for some time. The aldermen really supported us. We know this is just one step in the process, but we hope the city can continue to preserve the neighborhoods and the parkway."

Hansen added that the entire parkway system that was built in the early 1900s is considered a "green necklace" of preserved land.

More unwelcome routes

Two other proposed routes that run along residential 92nd and 95th streets have been negatively received because they would be placed near St. Therese Parish and the Montessori School of Milwaukee. In those scenarios, power lines would be placed on overhead towers on the Milwaukee border.

The Milwaukee Common Council passed a resolution asking that the lines be buried in proposed Route C along 95th Street.

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