Wisconsin village declares Foxconn area properties blighted

A village board in southeast Wisconsin has deemed thousands of acres of farmland and a few dozen homes to be blighted, allowing it to seize the property for a Foxconn manufacturing complex.

Mount Pleasant trustees declared the area blighted Monday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported . Under state law, a property can be deemed blighted if it's predominantly open or impedes the growth of the community.

Most homeowners in the area have agreed to sell their property or will be subject to eminent domain. But a dozen property owners filed a federal lawsuit in January, arguing that the village's use of eminent domain is unconstitutional because it's for private rather than public benefit. They also say the offers for their properties are too low.

The area includes about 2,800 acres (1,133 hectares) of farmland.

Foxconn, which is based in Taiwanese, plans to build a plant that will manufacture advanced liquid crystal display panels. Officials say it could employ as many as 13,000 people.

"Tonight's approval of the redevelopment plan is one more sign of progress toward Foxconn's $10 billion, 22 million square foot advanced manufacturing campus," Village President David DeGroot said in a statement.

Trustee Gary Feest was the only vote against the declaration and criticized labeling the properties as blighted. He said he feels like the trustees are using a technicality to advance the village's interest and doesn't agree with the move.

"Anyone who thinks 'blighted' has to be thinking there's something wrong with the property," Feest said. "There's nothing wrong with any of these properties. They are beautiful properties."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Flynn has said the use of eminent domain is "a despicable thing" and provides further reason for a legal challenge. If elected, he said he would challenge the state's $3 billion incentive deal with Foxconn.

Republic Gov. Scott Walker and his supporters have said the project will deliver thousands of good-paying jobs.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com