Things could get lively Tuesday night at City Hall as a committee has combined a presentation from the company wanting to build power lines along a Wauwatosa parkway with a Common Council resolution condemning that very plan.
The Community Development Committee meets at 8 p.m. and at the last minute joined up a presentation from American Transmission Co. and the introduction of a resolution opposing the parkway route – together, as the last item on its agenda.
The committee usually meets in a room that holds up to a few dozen audience members, but in light of an expected large crowd, it has been moved to the full Common Council chambers for this matchup.
ATC's plans call for building two new 138,000-volt transmission lines, one from the south and one from the west, to serve the growing energy needs of the County Grounds institutions.
Four potential routes, two for each line, have been identified by ATC, which has shown a preference for overhead lines along the western "Route B" following a long stretch of Underwood Creek Parkway, because it is the less costly option.
Standing room and overflow crowds have marked meetings on similar resolutions against ATC's plans in the Milwaukee Common Council and the Milwaukee County Board.
The Milwaukee council voted unanimously to support a resolution from Ald. Michael Murphy demanding burial of power lines, rather than the less expensive option of overhead lines, next to the Milwaukee Montessori School, just across the Wauwatosa border.
At that and a prior committee meeting, students, parents, teachers and neighbors filled chambers. About 40 Wauwatosa families send their children to Milwaukee Montessori.
The County Board's Parks Committee last week unanimously supported Supervisor Jim "Luigi" Schmitt's resolution opposing any power lines, either overhead or underground, along Underwood Creek Parkway.
The Montessori crowd came out in force for that debate, too, and an amendment was added to Schmitt's proposal also demanding burial of the lines near the school.
Wauwatosa would have no jurisdiction over lines in Milwaukee, but it's still possible that Montessori families will make their presence known here, as they did in holding a press conference in Wauwatosa last summer.
Even if they don't, large contingents of Underwood Parkway neighbors and supporters of parks and open spaces have shown that they, too, can fill big rooms, as they have at several open house and organizational meetings.
None of the three resolutions has any force in law that can stop ATC from building its lines along a given route or in a given way. The hope of their supporters is that the strong official opposition from local governments will persuade the Public Service Commission, which has the final say, to insist that ATC follow a different route than the parkway and to bury its lines next to the Milwaukee school.
All three resolutions also contain language that acknowledges the need for the additional power to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, the Milwaukee County Research Park and planned development of UWM's Innovation Park research center. None of the resolutions proposes that no lines be built.
Wauwatosa Ald. Dennis McBride said Monday he was confident his resolution would be approved by the Community Development Committee and passed on to the full Common Council.
ATC has consistently said that it welcomes public input on the lines but is bound to promote less costly solutions because its building costs will ultimately be passed on to We Energies customers.
Underground lines cost about three times as much to install as overhead lines carried on transmission towers, according to ATC. Choosing a route other than Underwood Creek Parkway would require much of the line to be buried because it would have to pass through residential areas, the company said.
To see a map of the power line route options, open the PDF in the photo gallery and click "full screen."