Leslie Maj fears her home on County Line Road in Mount Pleasant, Wis., might be purchased for a planned widening of the road, also known as Highway KR. She says when she found out about the Foxconn-related road project, “That’s when the bottom fell out of my dreams and the nightmare started.” Photo taken July 1, 2019. Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch
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With homes largely cleared at the Foxconn site, a new group of nearby landowners now is worried that their homes and farms may be taken to widen a highway. 

In December 2018, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission updated its Vision 2050 plan. The plan recommends a long-range vision for land use and transportation in the seven-county southeastern Wisconsin region. It was originally adopted in July 2016, prior to the Foxconn announcement. 

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The amendment includes a mix of public transit improvements, housing recommendations and Wisconsin Department of Transportation road upgrades aimed at accommodating Foxconn and related development. 

One of those upgrades is to widen County Highway KR from two to six lanes from Interstate 94 to Highway H, along the southern border of Foxconn’s planned manufacturing facility. 

The updated plan also calls for expanding KR (County Line Road) further east, from two to four lanes between Highway H and Old Green Bay Road. 

That expansion would require the purchase of nearly 70 acres of land, affecting 14 farms and five homes, which would be demolished. 

Leslie Maj’s property on County Line Road in Mount Pleasant, Wis. is in the path of a planned widening of the road, also known as Highway KR, related to the Foxconn project. She currently has 125 feet between her home and the road, but the expanded road would be 69 feet from her front door. Photo taken July 1, 2019. Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Leslie Maj, who lives on County Line Road, gets to keep her newly purchased home — for now. But the expanded road would be 69 feet from her front door.  She currently has 125 feet between her home and the road. 

The Majs also would be losing an additional 20 feet for utility right-of-way, including a high-pressure gas pipeline to serve Foxconn and other future development in the area.  

Maj is worried Racine County will end up taking her property through eminent domain. 

“Even though the thought of another move, I don’t know if I have that in me,” said Maj, 60. “But I am left with no choice. When we bought this, we had been hoping to live in this (house) into our 70s and, God willing, our 80s.”

Nearly 200 people attended a March meeting to fight the expansion of KR, but land acquisition began this spring. Construction on the $59 million project will start in 2020.  

Maj moved into her house in November 2017. She learned about the Foxconn project shortly after putting in an offer. But after studying the development agreement between the company and the village, she saw the expansion of KR fell short of her house. 

At a Mount Pleasant Village Board meeting in early 2018, she heard her portion of KR would be expanded. 

“Once we moved into this home, it was the happiest days of our lives,” Maj said. “And then I heard (village project director) Claude Lois say ‘Yes, we are expanding KR,’ and that’s when the bottom fell out of my dreams and the nightmare started.”

This report was collaboratively produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and the nonprofit Wisconsin Watch, (www.WisconsinWatch.org), which collaborates with WPR, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by Wisconsin Watch do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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Corrinne Hess

Corrinne Hess is a Wisconsin Public Radio reporter based in Milwaukee. Hess has reported on the Southeast Wisconsin area for over ten years, writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Kenosha News, and other print media. She most recently worked at BizTimes (Milwaukee), where she reported in-depth features on finance, real estate, and more. Hess has won a number of awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, and others.