Port residents rail against development plans

Crowd that was unruly at times protests subdivision changes, plans for new homes on two sites in city
Ozaukee Press staff

A crowd of about 40 people packed into the Port Washington Common Council chambers Tuesday to speak against proposed developments in the city, at times shouting, cutting off comments and interrupting speakers, causing Police Captain Mike Davel to step in.

Many of the residents at the meeting opposed changes to a plan to develop the next phase of the New Port Vista subdivision off Highway 32 on the city’s south side that will replace single-family houses with apartment buildings, move the structures on the 34-acre parcel farther away from the Misty Ridge subdivision to the south and increase the amount of green space in the development.

Other residents opposed a rezoning request that would allow Nick Suddendorf of Fine Line Carpentry to create five lots on the north end of North Grant Street instead of four.

And others expressed concern that a 14-lot subdivision planned for a field on the south end of the Harbor Campus senior living facilities was too dense and could impact flooding in the area.

Aldermen approved the requested rezoning for all three developments, with only aldermen John Sigwart and Pat Tearney voting against the Grant Street rezoning.

The most raucous comments came in response to proposed changes in plans for the Reserve at High Bluff in the NewPort Vista subdivision, which is being developed by Fiduciary Real Estate.

A plan for the property approved in 2017 would have included not only 96 apartment units but 30 single-family lots. The multifamily units would have been on the south end of the subdivision, near the Misty Ridge subdivision, and the single-family units on the north end.

This year, Fiduciary proposed building five four-unit buildings and 19 six-unit buildings on the north end of the property, as well as a clubhouse with a pool.

This would increase the green space buffer between the New Port Vista subdivision and the Misty Ridge subdivision by moving the housing away from the south border.

But the fact that the plan would eliminate the single-family housing upset neighboring residents.

“Why are we going from New Port Vista with all privately owned homes to more rental properties?” Dave Pader, 1799 NewPort Vista Dr., said. “I’m not saying they (renters) are bad people, but there’s a different level of respect for the property.”

Jim Pack, 1848 Splitwood Dr., suggested the neighbors hire an attorney to fight the development, saying, “we could stop this or at least delay this for a very long time. 

“This is ridiculous. To see rental property in there would be horrible. I would consider selling my home with this many renters.”

Brian McCullum, 2312 Willow Pond Way, said, “I know from my personal experience, homeowners treat property differently. It’s going to affect property values.”

But City Administrator Mark Grams, who lives in the area, said he prefers the new plan, noting it provides more green space and moves the buildings to the north end of the property, farther away from the Misty Ridge subdivision.

The apartments will be similar to the existing apartments and condominiums in the development, Grams noted, adding they are high-end units.

“I see more benefits as far as open space, park space, than I do with the current plan,” he said.

Grams was interrupted several times when he spoke, with one man yelling, “We don’t care what you want.” Davel stepped in a couple of times, asking people to wait their turn to speak and not to interrupt others. 

Grams also said it’s unfair to denigrate renters.

“Calling them renters from hell is basically what you’re doing,” he said.

Ald. Mike Gasper concurred, telling the  homeowners, “Don’t have a knee-jerk reactions to renters. They’re not all bad.”

The changes to the Grant Street plan were opposed by neighbors who feared that allowing five lots to be created from four  parcels would result in the construction of homes that are not in keeping with the area.

That’s because the new lots would be about 69 feet wide, while the four lots they would replace would be about 87 feet wide, meaning smaller houses would be built on them.

The existing houses on Grant Street are built on lots that are generally about 100 feet wide, leading to a disconnect, said Tom Manoni, 948 N. Grant St.

Dave Pierringer, 929 N. Grant St., told aldermen that the houses that will be built will look like row houses.

“I don’t know why you’re even bringing this up — this is not Grant Street,” he said. “They’re way too narrow. There isn’t anything like that on this block. There probably isn’t anything like that in the city. 

“I don’t know how you can change the look of an entire block just because one person wants to put one more house in.”

Dan Schaefer, 1007 Fairview Dr., added, “They’re too crammed. The houses are going to be too small. The front yard is going to be 30% driveway. They’re going to look hideous.”

Jeannine Kitzerow, 1019 Shirlcrest Ct., said she was appalled by the idea that four or five lots would be created, saying she thought the land would remain a park.

“I don’t want to look down on five roofs,” she said. “It’s not going to fit with the neighborhood. It’s just going to look stupid.”

Sigwart noted that the city sold the land to Fine Line as four lots and said he believes it should be developed that way, while Tearney said he believes four lots was a better fit for the area, something that’s especially important with development in established neighborhoods.

Nick Suddendorf of Fine Line acknowledged the lots are smaller than the others on the street, but said a tree line will separate them.

“No matter what we did with the four lots, they were going to be narrower,” he said, adding the houses will be roughly 2,000 square feet and sell for $250,000 to $300,000. “I’m confident we’re going to put five nice single-family homes in there that will work. It’ll look nice and it’ll fit.”

Rezoning of the south portion of the Harbor Club property east of Holden Street to allow 14 single-family houses to be built off an extension of Webster Street brought out concerns about flooding issues and density.

“Why are they putting so many homes in?” asked Lynn Lodl, 646 N. Holden St. “They look awfully small. I don’t see it all fitting in that small area.”

The lots and rezoning is compatible with other homes on the east side of the campus, City Planner Bob Harris said.

Grant Smith, 664 N. Holden St., said there have been flooding issues in the area for a long time and he is concerned that the development will cause additional runoff and flooding.

But Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said that the stormwater detention basins that will be added as part of the development should improve the situation.


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