ROCHESTER — A 14-lot residential subdivision is in the works, making for the only new subdivision proposal in the village at this time.
A development enterprise called Pointe West has owned the roughly 36-acre farmland at the southwest corner of Washington Avenue (Highway D) and Heritage Avenue for 20 years. Mike Weinkauf, a local farmer, rents the acreage to farm soybeans.
The 14 lots would be about 2 acres each and would house single-family homes. A new street would be installed, extending west off Heritage Road.
Pat Hurley of Pointe West, who submitted the proposal to the village, said she would name the new street Gordon Way, after her late husband. Plans are conceptual; final design and timelines will not be established until the subdivision goes through the approval process.
Hurley said the main motivation to build was that her children would be inheriting the 36 acres and she wanted to do something with the land. She also believes more housing is needed in the area, particularly for Foxconn employees.
“I don’t want to leave (the land) like it is,” she said. “More value is in the subdivision to me.”
A long history
Hurley has lived in Rochester for 34 years. She’s proposed plans to the village three times before and had been rejected each time, she said.
If this proposal is not approved, Hurley said she will come back to village administration with other ideas.
She said that while she’s upset that she hasn’t been able to build on her own property, she understands it’s because the land has a designated scenic road on both sides of it which, per village policy, doesn’t allow construction.
Hurley is not optimistic about working with the village in this process.
“It was put on hold, but they didn’t deny it,” she said. “I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.”
Drainage, setback concerns
Drainage issues were brought up regarding the plan at the May 27 Plan Commission meeting. Plan commissioners also didn’t like the proposal because the proposed subdivision’s street did not have two entry/exit ways to existing highways and the houses were too close together.
The drainage issues were referred to the Village Board and first considered at a June 8 board meeting. A proposal was developed by the village engineer to conduct a study to address the drainage complaints originating from property owners on Seidel Drive, Vista View Drive and Washington Avenue.
The study proposal was approved by the Village Board on June 22.
The drainage study will provide recommendations for the “Maple North Drainage Basin” area and proposed residential development area. Recommendations to improve the drainage way will include consideration of the volume of water that flows from the north, through the proposed subdivision, through Vista View and Seidel Drives, and out through the wildlife area owned by the Department of Natural Resources located to the west of Seidel Drive.
Weinkauf said he is most concerned about the drainage of the property, because Rochester has had flooding issues in nearby farmland after new homes are built.
“There’s just millions and millions of gallons of water that come off the hill,” he said. “I’m not against subdividers or anything like that, but I’d like to see the land subdivided properly and not see the drainage issue.”
Weinkauf has rented the 36 acres for about 12 to 15 years, and before that, he helped farm for previous renters of the land. Weinkauf also used to be on the Village Board, serving 14 years.
He additionally is concerned that if the 14 lots are built, there won’t be any land left to farm. If Weinkauf had more money, he said he would buy the property and keep it in agriculture.
The land formerly had corn, wheat and beans; now it has soybeans, he said.
Farms and farmland have been disappearing around the county, which troubles Weinkauf. “We can’t mess up all that farmland, or there’s not going to be enough (food) to feed the people with,” he said.
If the Pointe West land is made into the subdivision, Weinkauf would continue to farm elsewhere. He and his family own other plots of land.
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