Hammersley subdivision advances amid water concerns

Developer plans detailed study before next step
By: 
Mark Ignatowski

Several area residents shared concerns about water runoff from a proposed 72-acre development near Lacy and Fitchrona roads Tuesday.

The development will move on to its next phase – which includes a comprehensive water study – after getting a unanimous vote of approval from the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday. The development aims include a mixture of housing, including 156 multi-family units, which drew concerns about traffic and crime.

Commission members reviewed a comprehensive development plan to redevelop the Hammersley Quarry site over a period of several years. Despite the plan’s approval, though several commissioners made it clear they expect more details about water management at the next phase.

Initial plans call for 184 single-family lots of varying sizes, 156 multi-family units including apartments of senior living facilities, condos and rowhouses and 22 acres of park and open space areas. There will be wooded and open space buffers on the east and south sides of the development and connections to nearby pedestrian and bike trails.

Tuesday’s meeting included a presentation by the development team about the project, as well as a public hearing and questions from commission members.

Water, water everywhere

During a public hearing, several neighbors shared their concerns about water quality, traffic and the potential devaluation of nearby properties associated with the multifamily component of the project.

Steve Sheets, a Town of Verona resident who has measured water quality in nearby Goose Lake for nearly two decades, said the proposed development would further degrade what the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has deemed a “dead” lake.

“Spring rains can be the most telling as we watch the lake turn dark brown beginning at the northeast end where the runoff enters from Fitchburg,” Sheets said. “There are times when we can walk … down to the lake edge and smell the heavy aroma of barn manure … (from) the lake.”

Sheets said significant rain events – those dumping more than three inches of water at a time – have increased in recent decades. The result is more water rushing into the Quarry Ridge retention pond and ultimately Goose Lake.

Water resource engineer Rob Montgomery said the development group would provide more details about the water issues during the next phase. He did say the plan is to maximize infiltration of runoff from the development into the two bedrock aquifers. Those underground aquifers drain away from Goose Lake, Montgomery said, and towards Lake Waubesa. The rest of the runoff would likely be sent to the Quarry Ridge retention pond.

Debbie Hatfield, a member of the development team, said more details about infiltration and drainage controls would be available at the next phase. A stormwater analysis would be completed in time for review with the preliminary plat.

The comprehensive development plan was the first phase and approval would give the developer an assurance that they’re on the right track with their proposal.

“The intent is to minimize the impact on Goose Lake,” Hatfield said.

Commissioner Ed Kinney said that although the CDP was approved, the commission said it “really needs answers to the stormwater questions.”

“There are so many issues, and they’re so big in this area with stormwater,” Kinney said. “We really want to make sure that we have the answers that we need before we move ahead.”

Multifamily housing

Other concerns were raised about the quality of tenants and proximity to existing homes of the multifamily component of the neighborhood.

The corner of Lacy and Fitchrona roads was chosen because it’s a major intersection in the area and provided the best access for the four-building, three-story multi-family housing, consultant Tim Anderson told the commission. The building would be set back from the road to limit its visual intrusion on nearby single-family homes.

Still, Town of Verona neighbor Ellen Maurer was concerned that the multifamily units would draw criminals and low-income residents to the area. Realtor Phil Sveum said there were no plans to have subsidized housing in the area.

Traffic

Traffic, too was concern of some residents.

The development is projected to add nearly 3,000 vehicle trips per day.  Hatfield said both Lacy and Fitchrona roads have capacity for between 10,000 and 12,000 trips per day and that the roads would be well below that limit even when more than 700 residents were added to the area.

Still, Kinney said he’d like to know more about traffic plans – specifically, when a roundabout intersection is planned for the Fitchrona and Nesbitt roads intersection. The development is dedicating additional road right of way in case future lane additions are needed, Hatfield said.

The process

The development will be done using part standard zoning and part planned development district zoning. The city’s SmartCode zoning won’t be used because of limitations in the new code, Sveum said.

Specifically, the code has a requirement that 30 percent of the multifamily building would be used for “other” purposes, such as office or commercial space. The proximity to the future North Stoner Prairie Neighborhood would likely provide ample commercial and retail options.

Developers hope to bring a preliminary plat map to the March Planning Commission meeting, Hatfield said. It is likely that a rezoning request and general development plan would be reviewed at that time, as well.

The city’s Resource Conservation Commission is also set to discuss the development plan Monday, Jan. 27.

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