The Sturgeon Bay City Plan Commission met Wednesday to make final recommendations on three issues that came before it last week, including the rezoning of property along Third Avenue owned by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. Mayor David Ward had asked representatives from the company to provide more information to help ease resident concerns over the proposal. Assistant General Manager Ryan Hoernke gave the bulk of the presentation, which lasted over 40 minutes.
It delved into the different kinds of frigates manufactured by Fincantieri and the various processes that go into completing each boat. Bay Ship will be involved in the assembly of individual modules, individual pieces of a larger whole. As of right now, the modules are taken to Marinette Maritime for ship erection. Bay Ship hopes to eventually keep those final steps in-house when the new buildings are complete on the South Yard, pending an expansion of the current naval contract. Hoernke talked about cutting, blasting, and shaping steel and how all of that will be brought indoors to construct the Littoral Combat Ship components. Trucks will enter from the west, away from Third Avenue, and the blast and prime line work is done on that side of the building far from residential homes. Hoernke addressed the gravel pile that generated so much discussion last week. He talked about how the yard has been incrementally paved since Fincantieri purchased it in 2015. According to Hoernke, the parent company's directive is to put asphalt down on all of the grounds as soon as possible.
Bay Ship also talked about the number of regulatory agencies it answers to, including OSHA, the EPA, Wisconsin DNR, and the military. City Plan Commission members unanimously agreed it was an excellent presentation. Even many of those opposed to Bay Ship's expansion conceded that they learned a lot.
The proposal passed unanimously, with one condition as laid out by member Mark Holey.
To further its partnership with Bay Ship on the potential beautification project, the City of Sturgeon Bay is devoting funding for it in next year’s budget. Member Helen Bacon summed up the night, saying that both the company and homeowners deserve to be heard by the city. She said that her experience as a lifelong resident of Sturgeon Bay, whose family worked in the yard, meant the noise and bustle of building has almost become a rhythm of her life, something that defines her. She says that as the neighborhood across the street, filled with several historical structures, gentrifies, a tension is developing between those who intimately understand the business operations at Bay Ship and those who have moved in later in life who are more likely to only grudgingly tolerate it.