Gurnee raises alarm on $10B Foxconn plan in Wisconsin

  • If the proper stormwater management policies aren't enforced on the $10 billion Foxconn project in southeast Wisconsin, Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said Monday night, flooding could get worse in the village.

      If the proper stormwater management policies aren't enforced on the $10 billion Foxconn project in southeast Wisconsin, Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said Monday night, flooding could get worse in the village. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/19/2018 10:32 AM

The Gurnee village board joined the county by raising the alarm that the proposed $10 billion Foxconn manufacturing plant in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, will significantly harm flooding in the village.

The village board unanimously passed a resolution urging Wisconsin to enforce environmental regulations on the project.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wisconsin officials lured Foxconn -- the world's biggest contract manufacturer of smartphones, computers and other technology products -- to their state with a $3 billion incentive package last year. One of the terms of that deal was that it waived some environmental requirements.

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said she is concerned that they haven't seen any sort of stormwater management plan for the project, which is set to break ground later this month.

Kovarik said the project will turn hundreds or thousands of acres of farmland into impermeable surface that if not properly managed could increase the amount of rain that runs down the Des Plaines River.

"When that water comes out of Wisconsin, we're the first community it really hits," Kovarik said. "We're built right on the river. We have major arteries that get shut down from flooding."

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The Lake County Board approved a similar resolution last Thursday asking Wisconsin to reconsider waiving of the environmental regulations.

Kovarik sits on the county stormwater commission and said she is concerned that the development could undo work done by the county and village to mitigate flooding. She said the county has spent around $30 million and the village has spent around $5 million to $6 million buying properties near the river and gaining ground in the flood plain so they don't have to sandbag as much.

"That could be completely wiped out," Kovarik said. "If you damage the environment you can't fix it. You can't say 'whoops' and want a redo or want a mulligan. It doesn't work that way."

Kovarik said the resolution doesn't have any teeth but said it was a statement that they're concerned.

The plant is expected to be a $10 billion, 13,000-employee complex in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, 20 miles north of the Illinois state line and on the headwaters of the Des Plaines River. The company says the factory will make liquid crystal display panels for computers, TVs and self-driving cars.

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