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Beaver Dam Common Council approves re-zoning for new apartment complex on north side

May 23, 2018 GMT

The Beaver Dam Common Council approved a zoning change to a property to make way for a new apartment complex on Monday.

The new 82-unit complex will be off Woodland Drive, north of the Spring Lake Apartments and near Kohl’s, 1734 N. Spring St. It will be in between the Lake George Terrace and Shady Oaks subdivisions.

The property was previously designated for single-family homes. It is now zoned for multi-family housing, a change that was required to build the apartments. The complex will have 12 one-story buildings with two-bedroom, two-bathroom units for rent of about $850 to $900.

The vote was 9-4, with council members Jane Loizzo, Mary Morgan, Ken Anderson and Dan Doyle opposed. Council member Robert Ballweg, who is involved with the property as a real estate agent, abstained.

Jeff Rohr, a town of Beaver Dam resident in Shady Oaks, spoke against the rezoning to the council, saying multi-family housing wouldn’t blend with the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to concerns about safety and design of the complex, Loizzo said she was concerned about the impact on the neighbors.

“I knew that I would have the peace and quiet and darkness that I was looking for when I bought a home in the country,” Rohr said. “You’re going to forever change the north side of Beaver Dam and you’re also going to forever change my neighborhood.”

He said he was concerned about lighting and privacy. Michelle Foote of Infinity Real Estate in Ripon, the developer for the property, said they will be respectful of the neighbors and lighting will be safe, but reasonable.

Another town resident in Lake George Terrace, Dane Grosenick, said multi-family development should be made elsewhere.

“Why do you want to bring multi-family homes that will bring, excuse me, nothing but problems down the road to our area and bring down the value of our homes?” he said.

Anderson, who also said he was concerned about the process used to approve the proposal and the complex’s safety, said he believes the city needs “single-family housing, period.” Mayor Becky Glewen said that the property in question contains tough rock in the ground and developers have shied away building single-family housing in that area because of the increased cost of digging basements.

Council member Kara Nelson said she has received emails from town residents who had valid concerns. However, she also took issue with the emails’ frequent mention of “those types of people” or “we all know what kind of trouble comes with developments like that.”

“I understand there may be some preconceived notions that multi-family unit areas bring crime, noise and trouble,” she said. “I believe those kinds of preconceived notions are mostly based in fear and shouldn’t drive development of our city.”

Foote said “a reasonable person would realize that apartments don’t cause crime.”

“That would be assuming everybody who lives in an apartment is susceptible to be some sort of criminal,” she said. “That’s not the case.”

The developers have said they are focused on marketing the apartments to retirees, or people who want to move out of their houses but stay in Beaver Dam. Glewen said that would be important to free up single-family housing.

Fire Chief Alan Mannel has spoken against the development. He said he is concerned about the lack of sprinkler systems in the apartments buildings.

The Executive Building on West Third Street that burned down April 7, killing two people, did not have a sprinkler system, which officials said made fighting the fire more difficult.

Mannel said he is also concerned about access and response times to the proposed complex, which will have one entrance and exit on a loop. Another access point, via the town road Lake George Terrace, is not certain because it requires approval from the town of Beaver Dam board, which developers are trying to get.

Mannel has said the department is already strained for staff and resources, and the complex’s location in the far north of the city, away from the downtown fire station, poses a serious problem.

Foote said there are always growing pains with new development’s impact on local services, but the way to ultimately expand services, including fire servcie, is to expand the tax base with new projects.

“We are not an out-of-state developer. We are here,” she said. “We are invested in this community and we want to see positive things happen and positive growth.”

Glewen said the development is expected to bring about $175,000 a year to the city and said the development will be a good move for Beaver Dam.