CALEDONIA — Residents have submitted a petition opposing a proposed expansion to a Douglas Avenue senior-living complex.
Illinois-based developer Alf McConnell has submitted revised plans to expand his Parkview Gardens senior-living complex, 5321 Douglas Ave., but is receiving significant push-back from village residents. Homeowners on 4½ Mile Road, whose properties abut Parkview Gardens, don’t want to see construction come any closer or see 4½ Mile get any busier than it already is.
There are already four buildings at Parkview Gardens and a fifth that has been approved, although the fifth one hasn’t been built yet. McConnell wants to have a nearly 15-acre parcel of land owned by Parkview Gardens rezoned to allow for up to another four, three-story, 73-unit senior-living homes.
“There’s not one person who has a lot adjoining to his (McConnell’s) property who is happy about this proposal,” Ken Veselik, who lives on the 2400 block of 4½ Mile, told the Plan Commission Monday.
A petition signed by 42 residents was delivered to several village leaders Wednesday, longtime 4½ Mile Road resident Richard Goldmann said.
The petition expresses the group’s wishes for Parkview Gardens to not be allowed to expand any closer to their homes. Residents have expressed fear of flooding issues and having buildings that are 40-50 feet tall behind the residents’ homes, in addition to a distrust of the developer.
McConnell originally proposed a concept plan at a Nov. 26 Plan Commission meeting but was told to make revisions. Those revisions were discussed and critiqued Monday, and McConnell plans to revise the plan again in part because of a density problem.
Racine County Zoning Administrator Jarmen Czuta pointed out that McConnell’s proposal (which includes 292 new units in total) would be denser than the maximum allowed (approximately 271 units for the 14.8-acre parcel).
McConnell said he was hoping the village would make an exception for Parkview Gardens.
In November, the commission directed McConnell to meet with nearby residents in person to go over his concept plan. He said at Monday’s meeting, during discussions lasting more than 30 minutes, that he’d already met with a couple of residents in person and has two more meetings planned with two to four homeowners.
Veselik and Dennis Kasten, who also lives on 4½ Mile Road, say they would prefer meeting with McConnell as a group to address their concerns, rather than one on one. McConnell wasn’t receptive to that idea, saying it would be “impossible” to get everyone together at one time.
What are they worried about?
The most prominent concern residents presented was traffic.
McConnell proposed adding a new outlet from Parkview Gardens to Highway 32, but the Wisconsin Department of Transportation rejected that idea.
McConnell also asked to be allowed to create an outlet to 4½ Mile Road, an idea the Plan Commission has entertained while residents are opposed. They fear the outlet would only bring more traffic and thus more danger to those who live on 4½ Mile Road, including a blind individual and a child with a disability who lives right next to the proposed road, Veselik said.
Plan Commissioner Bill Folk expressed concern that a connecting road from Parkview Gardens to 4½ Mile Road would also be unsafe for Parkview residents because such a road would allow drivers to cut through Parkview Gardens to the shopping center that includes Kmart, Douglas Avenue Diner and Pick ‘n Save.
Kasten said backyards along the south side of 4½ Mile are often moist even when it isn’t raining. He said the problems will worsen if Parkview Gardens is allowed to build on the 14.8-acre field which is currently used to farm corn and alfalfa.
“My sump pump is going constantly year-round. My ditch is always wet,” Veselik said. “With more buildings behind me, it is going to be more of a problem.”
McConnell promised to hire an engineer to “eradicate any water problems.”
On Nov. 27, McConnell told the Plan Commission, “The neighbors have generally liked what we have done. We’ve developed an amicable relationship.”
Kasten and Veselik said that was a lie.
In 2015, more than a dozen 4½ Mile Road homeowners went to court with Parkview Gardens regarding broken deed restrictions. The homeowners lost the case, allowing Parkview to expand to the residents’ collective chagrin.
Eight years prior to that lawsuit, residents — including Goldmann — were angered when trees on Parkview Gardens’ property were taken down after then-Village Engineer Michael Hayek told McConnell he wasn’t allowed to take them down, according to a Journal Times article from August 2007.