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Four-plex put on hold due to flood plain concerns

A proposal to develop a four-plex on a vacant parcel near Grahl Park has hit a snag due to floodplain issues.

However, residents want to make sure they have a chance to have concerns addressed prior to the city’s planning commission making a rezoning decision in the future.

The city had received a rezoning request for a vacant parcel located just east of 506 E Urquhart which on the survey maps is Wisconsin Central Railroad 3rd Addition, Lot 4 Block 2. The lot is currently zoned R2 which allows one and two family homes.

Bryan Schultz had been working with the owner of the property to purchase it and to build a four-plex on the property which would require it to be rezoned to R3 multi-family residential use. There are already R3 parcels in the area with an apartment building located across the street from the parcel in question. Prior to Monday’s public hearing, the developer learned of a flood plain that runs through the rear of the property, which is part of the flood shadow should the dam at the Weather Shield impoundment north of Allman Street fail.

City planner Bob Christensen described the flood plain as existing in a “hypothetical manner” since it would only be generated if the Weather Shield Dam by the glass plant was gone or if there was a “catastrophic failure.” “Then that plain would come into play,” Christensen said. Regardless being designated as part of a flood plain means that the developer would be unable to build in the flood plain area of the parcel.

“The original site plan would not be approved because part of the foundation would be in the flood plain,” Christensen said, noting that this was brought up after the rezoning request was made.

On September 6, Schultz wrote a note to the city asking that action on the proposed rezoning be held off at this time.

However, the public hearing was still held with area residents voicing concerns.

Virginia Brost spoke on behalf of her mother who lives at 560 E. Urquhart voicing concerns about development potentially impeding the water flow which exists through the properties. She also noted there was an unimproved platted road in the area and she questioned if that road was taken into consideration in regard to setbacks.

Brost also raised concern about adding more multi-family housing to an area that has a significant amount of traffic due to existing multi-family housing and the nearby park. It was noted that parking in the area is an issue, especially when there are events in the park.

Upon learning that Schultz asked the city to hold off on making the zoning change at this time, residents voiced concern that the issue could come back at any time without them being notified.

Mayor Mike Wellner, who chairs the planning commission said his intention was to ask for a motion to table the zoning request following the public hearing.

Brost asked if the mayor would guarantee residents would receive notification again if the issue came back. She expressed concern that it could be tabled now and brought back in the future and the residents would learn about it after the fact.

“We would make sure you are all notified,” Wellner said.

Christensen noted that a zoning change would not be needed for someone to build a duplex on the property because it is currently zoned for one and two family homes. “They could build a duplex by right,” he said.

Nearby resident Mike Gingras reaffirmed that residents would want to be notified if the planning commission was going to take action. Kris Gingras also voiced concerns about parking in the area and with the water that flows down the road when it rains.

During the planning commission meeting, member Peggy Kraschnewski made the motion to table the request at this time and specified that if it was brought back all property owners would be notified. The motion was approved by the members.

By tabling it, the request can be brought back at a future meeting if the developer’s plans change without needing to go through the public hearing process again.

Zoning changes are a two-step process with a recommendation coming from the planning commission, but final action being taken by the full city council.