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Fond du Lac residents worried about storage facility construction

Posted at 10:34 AM, Mar 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 11:34:02-04

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Residents in a subdivision off of Highway 151 in Fond du Lac are currently living next to an empty plot of land.

They were recently notified by the city that a storage unit facility is coming to the area.

“It doesn't belong here,” resident Fred Wallner said. “It doesn't belong within this close proximity to these homes.”

Wallner said many in the neighborhood were concerned that the 10-building facility with more than 400 storage units could create more traffic in the area.

"I told my wife I'll never think the same of this place again," he said. “There's kids in this neighborhood that like to play on the roads during the summer time."

Fond du Lac City Manager Joe Moore said a road will be built between the subdivision and the future storage unit facility that will deter traffic from the subdivision.

"Typically in these storage unit areas, the traffic in and out of them is extremely light,” Moore said.

Additionally, Moore said duplexes will be built between the subdivision and road to insulate the subdivision.

“The developer will also be developing residences,” Moore said. “And so there's that buffer between where the current residential area is and where the storage units are going to be.”

Residents also have other concerns.

“We're concerned also about the possibility of vandalism and theft … people that really shouldn't be in here wandering through these units,” Wallner said.

Fond du Lac Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt said in his experience, specific storage units may be targeted by burglars, but said he is not aware of any home being “burglarized in conjunction with the burglar(s) targeting a nearby storage unit.”

“If a burglar is targeting a storage unit, in our experience the storage unit remained their sole target,” Waldschmit said in a statement.

Some residents said they felt that the city did not listen to their concerns or give them adequate time to respond.

“They only are obligated to notify people within 300 feet of where the building site is going to go, which leaves out just the vast majority of people in this subdivision,” Wallner said.

Moore said they did notify everyone within 300 feet of the facility on March 5, and encouraged public input at a city plan commission meeting eight days later.

“I do think that the commissioners listened closely to what they were being told by the public,” Moore said. “But when it came to their analysis, they applied the standards that are before them in the statutes and in the city code.”

Residents like Jeff Uitenbroek says he believes many residents were taken by surprise, but understanding that the area was zoned for commercial use may have helped.

“Looking at those maps, understanding that will help you know what the potential future could be,” Uitenbroek said.

Uitenbroek said he hopes in the future, the city could notify residents of these changes sooner and also notify residents who live beyond 300 feet of the proposed construction.

“The 300 foot rule seems a bit restrictive,” Uitenbroek said.

The city said construction on the facility will begin this summer.

NBC 26 reached out to the future owner and operator of the storage facility, who could not respond for comment by deadline.