Organization takes next step in long-delayed plan to build housing in Grafton
Habitat for Humanity’s nine-year quest to build a housing project in Grafton moved one step closer to reality this week when the organization presented an annexation petition to the village’s Plan Commission.
The commission was expected to recommend that the Village Board approve the annexation, which would pave the way for the Ozaukee County Chapter of Habitat Lakeside to construct a duplex and a single-family home on a one-acre parcel west of Sendik’s Food Market on First Avenue.
The wooded, vacant parcel is currently in the Town of Cedarburg off the north side of Columbia Road.
Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said a favorable recommendation from the commission was expected because the village finalized details of a pre-annexation agreement with Habitat to allow the project to move into the final stages of an approval process.
“The village has also endorsed the project by amending a land-use map for the plan,” Hofland said.
Early this year, the Village Board approved the map change to allow medium-density urban residential development on the parcel. The change accommodates Habitat’s plan to erect two buildings with three units as a two-phase project.
Since September, Habitat worked with the village to resolve the group’s cost concerns in developing the parcel and received a favorable review of the annexation petition from the Wisconsin Department of Administration.
The department’s Division of Intergovernmental Relations found the annexation to be in “public interest,” village Director of Planning and Development Jessica Wolff stated in a report to the commission.
The Village Board is scheduled to consider the annexation petition Monday, Dec. 2. Pending board approval, Habitat must still obtain approvals for rezoning and site and building plans as part of a planned unit development.
Habitat has constructed eight residential unites for low-income families in the City of Port Washington but none in other Ozaukee County communities. The organization first approached Grafton in 2004 about using the Columbia Road site, but disagreements over housing density, drainage, setbacks and other issues have delayed the project.
“Overall, the Planning and Development Staff is comfortable with the request of an annexation petition and is looking forward to the project moving forward to the rezoning process,” Wolff stated in her report.
“The Planning and Development staff and Habitat for Humanity will continue to work on final plans that will be acceptable to both parties.”
Alan Schupp, president of Habitat’s Ozaukee chapter, has said that project delays due to the approval process could prevent on-site work until 2015. He estimated that the first phase of the project — including utility work, sidewalk installation, landscaping and construction of the single-family house — could cost as much as $180,000.
How long it takes Habitat to raise the money will determine when on-site work can begin, Schupp said.
Grafton and Cedarburg churches, including several parishes that asked the village to approve the project, are expected to help spearhead fundraising efforts.
Pending approval of the annexation request, the Plan Commission is expected to hold a public hearing on Habitat’s rezoning request in December or January, Hofland said. A commission recommendation would be followed by a Village Board decision on rezoning.
Approval of site and building plans could be completed in January or February, Hofland said.
Habitat provides affordable housing for low-income families through interest-free mortgages. Families chosen for homes must work alongside volunteers and contribute 500 hours of hands-on labor to the completion of their residence.