Developer convinces Plan Commission that 50% requirement makes no sense in this market
A developer’s research was enough to convince the Village of Saukville Plan Commission that its aesthetic requirements for condominium projects should be eased.
Hillcrest Builders has been seeking concessions from the village on the proposed 18-unit condo development on a 4.9-acre parcel on Briarknoll Court.
The project was first approved in 2005, but since that time the developer said the market demand for condos has changed markedly.
Steps must be taken to hold costs in check, according to the developer, or the condos will not sell in the current real-estate market.
That argument convinced the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant some setback leeway earlier this year, but the village requirement that 50% of a condo building’s exterior be brick or natural stone remained a financial stumbling block.
To get around the requirement, the developers were told they would need to request a text amendment to the zoning code easing the requirement.
Oyvind Solvang of Hillcrest Builders returned to the Plan Commission earlier this month with statistics that supported the developer’s argument.
“I was surprised,” Solvang said after learning that Saukville’s brick requirement for condos is more stringent than in Port Washington, Grafton, Hartford or Kewaskum.
“We have researched surrounding and comparable communities/markets and found Saukville’s requirement to be significantly out of sync with comparable requirements, and thus the comparable market for the type of produce salable at Briarknoll Court.”
At an earlier meeting, Solvang said the aesthetic requirement could add $15,000 to the cost of each building, making it difficult to keep the cost at the targeted $215,000 to $230,000.
He said the proposed building would be made aesthetically attractive through the use of stone accents.
“You can have a plan that is still very rich looking. There is nothing magic about stone,” Solvang said.
Commission member Richard Belling said he was sympathetic with the financial dynamics at play, saying the 50% stone requirement seemed flawed when considering what current condo buyers are looking for.
While other commission members saw merit in looking at the brick requirement on a case-by-case basis, Village President Barb Dickmann, who chairs the commission, worried that inferior condo projects could be built if there were no standards.
As a compromise, it was suggested the brick requirement be dropped for condo buildings of four or fewer units.
That code change was recommended to the Village Board, which must hold a public hearing on the change before the code can be altered.