01STOCK_MILTON_WATERTOWER

MILTON

Clasen Quality Chocolate is another step closer to building its 390,000-square-foot facility in Milton with the approval of an at-grade public crossing of the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad tracks with County M.

The decision from the Office of the Commissioner of Railroads was announced Thursday.

The city of Milton plans to install a new railroad track from south of the western end of Putnam Parkway east along its south side and across County M to serve Clasen.

Eventually, Wisconsin & Southern rail tankers will deliver sugars and food-grade oils to the chocolate factory at least three nights a week.

The company, which specializes in chocolate and confectionery coatings, plans to build a 390,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility by the end of 2022 and bring 50 new jobs to Milton. The projected tax value is $29 million.

Clasen also runs facilities in Middleton and Watertown and has corporate offices in Madison.

City Administrator Al Hulick said no other governmental approvals are needed for Clasen at this point.

But, he said, “They still have their private land transactions to execute.”

Clasen intends to create a 169-acre site in Crossroads Business Park and needs to buy land to do that.

As part of a tax increment financing agreement with the city, Clasen agrees to extend a rail line about 3,500 linear feet from west of Penn Color to its site.

The city will own the new industrial track, and Wisconsin & Southern Railroad will operate it under an agreement it reached with the city on maintenance costs and required warning devices at County M.

Rock County officials said at the hearing for the project that the railroad crossing at County M is advisable from an economic development and transportation planning standpoint to improve rail service to Milton’s Crossroads Business Park.

Railroad crossing and yield signs will be required at each approach to a passive railroad-highway grade crossing.

Clasen intends to start construction on the rail spur, an extension of Putnam Parkway and its facility as soon as possible this year, Hulick said.

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