Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson is vetoing a county board decision to use eminent domain to take property in Appleton’s northeast business park for the sheriff’s department.
Nelson said he had a change of heart after hearing more about the J. F. Ahern Company’s plans to expand on the East Goodland Drive property. The owner of the building already had accepted an offer from J.F. Ahern.
The eminent domain proposal passed on a 17-to-11 vote Wednesday night, with many supervisors saying they had a tough time supporting the use of eminent domain, but felt it was necessary.
Nelson said the county is going to move forward with a site at Highway 15 and Casaloma Drive for the sheriff’s department. Sheriff Brad Gehring had described the Goodland Drive site as a perfect fit for his department, and that project would be $2 million cheaper, with a faster timeline for moving in than the Casaloma Drive location.
County board chair Jeff Nooyen is critical of Nelson’s decision. In a statement, he accuses the county executive of putting political ambitions over his duties for the county. Nelson is running for the 8th District congressional seat.
Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna says allowing the J.F. Ahern to have the Goodland Drive site will help add about 100 jobs. Hanna is encouraging the company to keep moving with the project. He says the city will do all it can to get the deal done.