MOUNT PLEASANT — Despite outcry from residents, it appears Mount Pleasant is moving forward with a new townhouse/condo project on Emmertsen Road.
After a public hearing on Nov. 19, at which dozens of area residents expressed displeasure with the idea of eight to 10 two-story townhouses being put up in their neighborhood, and after several more followed up at the Plan Commission meeting on Nov. 20, the commission voted to recommend approval for a rezoning of the property.
The recommendation came with conditions that the approval have a sunset date of 12 months and that village staff work with the developer to put an eight-unit cap on the development and get satisfactory storm water and landscape plans.
The approval was only for the rezoning and the plans for the project have not yet been approved. The Village Board is scheduled to vote on the rezone at its meeting on Monday.
The estimated units would cost between $275,000 and $325,000 each.
According to the developer’s proposed description of the project, the price range was aimed “to appeal to a wider market of buyers and help with the demand for ‘affordable’ housing in the community.”
Village Planner Robin Palm said the project is targeted for those first entering the job market or looking to downsize.
“The staff believes that small projects with small developers are integral to addressing the housing shortage in eastern Racine County,” Palm said.
One of the main concerns residents had regarding the proposed development is how it will impact property values.
“It’s true that there are a lot of single-family units in that particular area, right down Heritage Lane here, and you hang a left, there are duplexes on Raintree Lane,” Palm said. “There’s a row of about 12 of them.”
Palm said properties directly across from those duplexes are worth $300,000 to $325,000 and some have increased about 10% from last year.
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“These houses are holding their value and in some cases increasing their value, despite being next to duplexes,” Palm said. “So there’s no correlation between housing value and whether or not they’re located next to duplex units.”
Another concern was the possibility that the property is too small for the number of units proposed.
Palm said in order to keep the village tax bills down in the future, the village is looking at keeping maintenance costs down.
“As we grow, we have to consider that the average lot size has to come down,” Palm said. “Because the maintenance costs of the roadways is going up. And the less houses you have per feet of roadway means the more maintenance costs are basically spread among all of the taxpayers.”
If the development is approved, a new road and cul-de-sac will have to be constructed and the maintenance will be done by the homeowners.
The village plans to discourage public cul-de-sac development.
Some residents had concerns that the units would congest the roads around the neighborhood and wanted to know how it would impact traffic.
Sam Schultz, village community developer, said the village implements a traffic impact when a project could result in about 100 trips a day. Schultz said the proposed development is likely not to create that amount of traffic.
Other residents had concerns about how the development could impact storm water runoff.
Palm recommended that the developer keep as much as the natural area as possible, not only for screening purposes for the houses behind the property but also for storm water retention purposes.
Village Trustee Ram Bhatia, who has lived on Emmertsen Road for more than 30 years, said he is not concerned about the project.
“We used to drive through cornfields,” Bhatia said. “All of these properties were built in the last 20, 25 years, some even 10 years. I used to live on Centennial Lane and over the last five years that has doubled … my point is my family has seen tremendous growth on Emmertsen Road around us over 30 years and the traffic is not where it is unbearable.”
But resident Mary Heffel was not satisfied with the answers from village staff or commission members.
“We feel like you’re shoving it down our throats,” Heffel said to the commission. “You guys don’t live there, we do. I’ve lived on Sandy Lane for 25 years, I’ve seen increased traffic on Emmertsen and on Sandy Lane but especially Emmertsen Road so I hope you will take your constituents in consideration when you make your decision.”
“The staff believes that small projects with small developers are integral to addressing the housing shortage in eastern Racine County.”
Robin Palm, Mount Pleasant village planner