Thursday, December 29, 2016

City Council 15-Nov-2016: Oak Ridge Rezone Decision, Open Space Maintenance Agreement, 10400 Sewer Project

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

About 40 people were in attendance. Most were there to discuss the rezone issue. This has been a somewhat controversial issue and we’ve had a lot of resident input. I ran a poll starting in September to better understand how residents feel about lot sizes (results shown below). Additionally, residents were not happy about the final vote and are petitioning for the matter to be on the 2017 election ballot. While technically the referendum can only overturn the decision to rezone this specific property a large majority decision on either side would be an indicator of the publics view of future R-1-40 to R-1-30 rezone requests. Anyone wishing to help gather signatures or sign a petition can contact Natalie Ball at I will discuss this further below.
2016-11-15 Oak Ridge Concept Plan

Public Comment/Appearances

  • .A resident (Wendy Condie) expressed concern regarding the Highland Blvd / 10800 N intersection and asked the the council consider a 3-way stop or round-about.

  • Another resident (Julie Brinkerhoff) expressed similar concerns and asked that more be done to protect drivers and pedestrians.


  1. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for the City Council Work Session – November 1, 2016. . Approved unanimously. Click here to view the minutes.

  2. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for the City Council Regular Session – November 1, 201  Approved unanimously. Click here to read the minutes.


  1. PUBLIC HEARING / ORDINANCE: Request for a re-zone from R-1-40 to R-1-30 of 28.38 acres located at 6475 West 11800 North – Oak Ridge Subdivision. Approved 3 to 2 (Yes: Ed Dennis, Tim Irwin, Dennis LeBaron; No: Brian Braithwaite, Rod Mann); Click here to read background information from the agenda. After the Nathan Crane reviewed request and the history of the R-1-30 zone (see staff presentation) Patrick Ward, the developer, reviewed the reasons he felt this property was a good candidate for R-1-30 and what they were doing to mitigate resident concerns:

    • R-1-30 helps mitigate lot sizing issues due to the irregular shape of the property.
    • A trail was added to allow children to access the school ground from the south.
    • An easement on the north side of the property was added to provide improved trail access from the west.
    • The frontage on the western lots will average 140’ to better match the R-1-40 lots to the west. The R-1-40 requirement is.130’.
    • Both the north-south and east-west roads will; have slight curves and radar speed signs to slow traffic.
    2016-11-15 Oak Ridge Concept Plan
    Below is a map of the area under discussion and charts showing related data.

    % of Perimeter Bordered by ... (Total 6,001 ft.)

    % of Homes Bordering Oak Ridge Based on Zoning

    Highland Lot Sizes by Zone - Approved Since 2014. 1 acre = 43,560 sq. ft.

    Lot Size Poll Results - What is a large lot? 80 Participants
    Zoning Standards

    In the public hearing neighbors expressed the view that this property should not be considered a transition zone and therefore should not be rezoned to R-1-30.

    Other arguments for retaining R-1-40 from earlier meetings and emails included:
    • R-1-40 is and has been the current zoning.
    • The property adjacent to this property is predominantly R-1-40 (including what everyone is calling smaller lots with the open space overlay, they are still R-1-40).
    • The same land owners had sold and developed part of their property for the development of R140 in recent years, proving that there apparently is a profit even in developing at an R-1-40 (as many developers claim there is not).
    • The city master plan has shown this property to be R-1-40 as the long-term plan and residents who bought property in the surrounding areas bought their property with the assumption that this land would be developed as such. By changing the zoning for this property, those residents have essentially been sold a bill of goods that is not consistent with the original plan and development.
    • Immediate neighborhood feedback is not in support of the zone change.  Some consideration should be given for those residents who are going to be the most affected by any rezone requests. 
    • Additional homes will have a negative impact on already overcrowded school and traffic
    • The city owes residents some duty to try and preserve the property values of existing residents and it is not foreseen that such a rezone request would be holding up that end of the "agreement" between existing residents and the city. 
    • Majority of buyers who are looking in our area want to build their Custom homes on Large lots.  IF they do not have parks, they want to have a "park-like" yard with room for sports courts, pools, etc. in their own backyard.
    • R-1-30 is still a large lot, but with the current zoning that makes the lots 20K-25K after sidewalks and roads.  That in my opinion, is not large enough for the "green space" Highland in known for. Nor is there any assurance it will remain large lots in the future.
    • I do not want to be back here in a year fighting for this property to be not rezoned again to R20 or even worse PD zoning because it has been sold off by this developer for a profit and now the new buyer needs to fit more homes for more profit.

    Here are my comments on the Oak Ridge rezone request, most of which were included in replies to various emails:

    • Most of the email responses I've received from residents has been supportive of R-1-40.
    • Out of the 26 residential lots which border the new development 10 would be considered smaller lots (38%).
    • I think that a case can be made that R-1-30 does provide a transition between the smaller lots and R-1-40 lots. I also believe the developer making the west lots have a 140' frontage (R-1-40 has a 130' min) supports the transition zone point of view.
    • The development would be 37 lots rather than the 41 max allowed by an R-1-30 or the 30 allowed by R-1-40 . 
    • The developer is also adding an easement from the trail that runs along the west side of the property to access the sidewalk on the north side is a benefit. Also the trail access to the south side of the school property is a benefit to the neighborhood as is the east-west road being gently curved and putting radar speed signs on it.
    • Were the property to be developed as R-1-40 the developer would not need to put in trail easements, curved roads or radar speed signs.. Nor would the developer be prevented from selling the land to someone else who could petition from an R-1-20 zone.
    • We should want a developer to be successful, a half developed project due to bankruptcy is in no ones interest.
    • Others have argued against the change because they want each lot to be developed as a custom home by separate contractors. An R-1-40 development would not guarantee that this would happen any more than an R-1-30. I wouldn't support the city requiring that of any development and I don't think others on the council would either, even if we could.
    • It could be argued that by approving this as an R-1-30 based on it being a transition zone the council is signaling that R-1-30 will be the preferred transition zone (rather than R-1-20) going forward.
    • Schools are not built to handle peak enrollment (this is a cost saving practice). Portables are brought in to handle the peaks. Enrollment will be an issue from time to time with all schools.
    • Traffic will be impacted but what we need to look at is the difference between the traffic generated by 30 homes (R-1-40) and 37 (the proposed plan). During peak hours the net increase on the Highland Blvd / 11800 intersection will be a 0.54% increase in the number of vehicles. The daily impact on the intersection will be 0.91%. These are estimates which I derived from our recent traffic study and traffic impact information from the University of Wisconsin. Click here to view the spreadsheet.
    • In the online poll I ran relative to what constitutes a large lot (R-1-20, R-1-30, or R-1-40) there 80 respondents.  Thirteen (16%) people said R-1-20, eleven (14%) R-1-30, and fifty-six (70%) R-1-40. According to experts it takes at least 400 respondents to have a statistically valid poll.
    • The lot size poll does carry weight for me even though I personally don't see that the average 0.60 acre lots of R-1-30 developments are "small" compared to the 0.79 acre average of R-1-40 developments.

    Given my response you might think that I would have voted for the zone change. It is true that my personal opinion is that the R-1-30 rezone is appropriate. However, here is why as a council member I did not vote in favor of the change:

    • The property owner purchased the land when it was zoned R-1-40 and there should have been no expectation that this would change.
    • The feedback from neighbors has been, by and large, negative to a rezone. Additionally, feedback from other parts of the community has also been overwhelmingly negative.
    • Good cases can be made both for and against this being a transition zone so this issue does not tip the scale for me.
    • I can’t find a compelling benefit to the city for the change. If residents can’t be persuaded to support the change as a council member I couldn’t vote for the change.

    In my view those supporting the rezone hurt their cause  in the following ways:

    • The agent for the land owners repeatedly reminded residents and council members that they provided land for the school and donated part of the land for the adjacent church. Issues: 1) they were paid for the land by the school district; 2) they received tax benefits from donating the land and 3) appearing to expect a favor because of the donation diminishes the value of the donation.
    • A statement by a council member saying he placed little value on the “form letters” received which opposed the zone change. Issues: 1) this told residents that the effort they made to craft the letter, distribute copies, and return them were wasted; 2) the letter did have a list of reasons from which residents could choose to express their opposition and 3) some residents added personal commentary to the letter.
    • A council member indicated that the opinions of those who opposed the zoning change but who lived on “small lots” themselves didn’t really count, thus reinforcing their view that their opinions didn’t count.
  1. MOTION: Approval of an Open Space Maintenance Agreement. This item was continued to the next council meeting so that the Open Space committee could share their feedback on the agreement.. Click here to read background information from the agenda.

  2. MOTION: Authorize Staff to prepare Construction Documents and Bid a Sewer Replacement Project - 10400 North Phase 2.  The council unanimously authorized the city to seek bids. Staff will look into how much of this project can be funded by impact fees. Click here to read background information from the agenda.
    2016-11-15 10400 Sewer Phase II


  • The city park maintenance equipment will again be stored in several locations for the winter, including the garages of two city owned homes. It is becoming apparent that the city may end up building multiple small storage facilities instead of one large one.


Requested by / Owner
Due Date
Road Capital Improvement Plan for FY 15-16. Prioritize and Communicate to Residents
City Council
Nov 2016
Plan Completed. Working on unified maintenance and capital plan to share with residents.
Election Policy City Council/
Jody Bates

Jan 2017

In progress
Determine Park Use for Recreation
City Council
Parks Staff
In progress
HW Bldg. – PW Storage Status
City Council
In progress. Will use garages in city owned homes. Long term it is looking like multiple locations will be the answer.
Options for Fire & Police Mayor


In progress.
Employee Pay Rate and Benefit Comparison Mayor & City Council


In progress.
Code enforcement policy update Mayor   In progress.



        1. Can we NOT put this issue on the ballot? That's why elect a council: so that informed citizens can make these kinds of decisions.

        2. I just wanted to thank you for laying out a rational commentary on the rezoning issue and for valuing resident input


        Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts regarding this post.