By Doug Hissom Special to Published Jun 13, 2008 at 5:25 AM

The largest undeveloped tract in Bay View could become the city's first comprehensive solar village, if the area's alderman vision comes to fruition.

At a community meeting last week, neighbors gave input on what to do with seven acres of vacant land in Bay View. The city controls the land, which was once the site of the Army Reserve, through the Port of Milwaukee.

There is currently no plan on the books for the site, which borders Lincoln Avenue, Bay Street, Logan Street and Conway Street along the Lake Parkway.

One plan, developed in anticipation of a train station being built as part of the KRM commuter system, envisioned retail and apartments along Bay Street and single-family and duplexes throughout the rest of the site.

Ald. Tony Zielinski says he still thinks the train station plan is the best idea for the land-but with the caveat that proposals feature solar-powered buildings. He says he wouldn't favor any building taller than three-and-a-half stories and would insist that the housing be owner-occupied or high-end rentals costing more than $900 per month.

Solar features would guarantee that the project would cost more than normal developments, he said.

"I want it to be the first solar-powered development in the state of Wisconsin," Zielinski said. "It would put Bay View on the cutting edge."

The term "solar village" is tossed around with many definitions. Zielinski wasn't precise in exactly what he envisions, although he would like any development to have a solar component.

Soldiers Grove, in southwestern Wisconsin, calls itself "America's first solar village." The town's central business district was relocated from the banks of the Kickapoo River to higher ground in 1979 after repeated flooding.

According to the town's Web site, the village passed ordinances that required new buildings be built to specific thermal performance standards twice as stringent as those required by state law at the time. A community-wide "solar access" law was prohibits any building from blocking another building's sunlight. Another law required that all new commercial buildings receive at least half their heating energy from the sun-the first such ordinance in the country.

More then 20 solar buildings opened, including the medical center, pharmacy, community / library building, fire station, post office, a bank, two apartment complexes, an office building, a storage building, two restaurants, a supermarket and five other privately-owned businesses.

A town in South Korea just finished a 40-home complex that is considered the world's first 100 percent solar village.

Some residents at the meeting requested that the space become a dog park or remain vacant green space. Zielinski said Bay View has a good amount of green space now and that holding firm for this to be green is "going to hurt our credibility in protecting more precious spaces."

Zielinski, however, does not oppose allowing the space to be used temporarily as a dog park until a development project comes along, but residents didn't raise that prospect. "I wish they would have," he said.

Planners with the Department of City Development will be compiling citizen input for the area and at least one more community meeting will be scheduled. Zielinski hopes guidelines for project bids would be ready within a few months and figures that putting in solar requirements could make it take some time for the right development to come forward.

What Goes Around: Ryan McCue's political career was created by being attached to the strings of wizard Orville Seymer and the Citizens for Responsible Government.

McCue, now mayor of Cudahy, seems to have been ostracized from the CRG fold, which is more like two people, anyway -- Seymer (a controversial landlord from Franklin) and CRG minister of propaganda, Chris Kleismet.

McCue became a County Board supervisor in 2002 as part of the CRG-orchestrated recall efforts in the aftermath of the county pension scandal.

Now, CRG minions are attempting to start a recall effort against McCue for his opposition to a Wal-Mart Supercenter. CRG is picking up the tab for legal advice, among other efforts. Wal-Mart is attempting to be a white knight -- stepping in to take advantage of the large expanse of open space created for the failed Iceport fiasco - which did not involve McCue.

But CRG isn't only using policy differences as the reason for a recall, since, after all, isn't that what policy is about? It's also trumping up a specter of corruption on the part of McCue by suggesting that he's been misusing city credit cards and automobiles.

McCue may not be a Mensa candidate, but nonetheless, most small-town public officials are bright enough to know the magnifying glass is big enough to follow their every move--- except maybe in St. Francis.

McCue has wandered from the fold in the past, voting for a CRG-dreaded tax increase in one county budget and Seymer still seems to be smarting from that, according to press statements. Apparently being your own politician is something Seymer and the gang can't handle.

The Cudahy Plan Commission reversed its previous opposition to the 138,000-square-foot Supercenter this week when a commission member changed his vote on what to put on the 26-acre site south of E. Layton Ave. between S. Nicholson Ave. and Sweet Applewood Lane.

The developers of Iceport -- who still have a stake in the land -- filed a claim against Cudahy after its first rejection of Wal-Mart in what the Cudahy city attorney termed an attempted intimidation of the Plan Commission.

Flooding Equal Rights: It's good to see that privilege doesn't always get special treatment. Ozaukee County Sherrif's Department officials cited three young canoeists for disorderly conduct after they took their boat down the Milwaukee River and wiped out. Fire departments from several municipalities launched rescue attempts, but the boaters turned up safely on shore.

Officials bemoaned the cost of the search and rescue operation at the time. Meanwhile, just upstream, former state Sen. Don Stitt, known for some right-wing lunacy when he was in the Legislature, was saved from flood waters of the Milwaukee River after ignoring road blockades and attempting to drive through the raging river.

Firefighters rescued Stitt after his SUV was submerged near Saukville. For his efforts, Stitt will reportedly receive a ticket for ignoring an official sign -- a far cry from disorderly conduct. There is talk that Stitt will have to pay for his rescue.

A Flood of Irony: The Web site for Madison's WISC-TV Channel 3 featured compelling video footage of the road collapse and the draining of Lake Delton in the Wisconsin Dells. First, however, viewers had to watch the obligatory commercial before getting to the footage. In Channel 3's version, the ad, in a paradoxical twist of timing, was for the Noah's Ark water park in the Dells.





Doug Hissom Special to
Doug Hissom has covered local and state politics for 20 years. Over the course of that time he was publisher, editor, news editor, managing editor and senior writer at the Shepherd Express weekly paper in Milwaukee. He also covered education and environmental issues extensively. He ran the UWM Post in the mid-1980s, winning a Society of Professional Journalists award as best non-daily college newspaper.

An avid outdoors person he regularly takes extended paddling trips in the wilderness, preferring the hinterlands of northern Canada and Alaska. After a bet with a bunch of sailors, he paddled across Lake Michigan in a canoe.

He lives in Bay View.