Janesville81°

Zoning committee tables land plan

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Kayla Bunge
November 16, 2007
— It’s back to the drawing board for Williams Bay developer Robert Clemen—that is, if he has any hopes of the county zoning committee approving his housing proposal for 140 acres in Walworth Township.

“I’m not sure I’m ready to deny the whole project,” committee member Gregory Holden said. “I’d be more likely to support something with a lot less density.”


The committee on Thursday tabled for 30 days Clemen’s application to rezone the property from A-2 agricultural holding to R-5A residential. The site is located east of County O and south of South Shore Drive.


Clemen is proposing 82 single-family homes and 60 two-family units on 90 acres in a conservation-style development called Covered Bridges. The remaining 50 acres would be open space and would include a couple miles of walking trails.


About three dozen people attended a public hearing Thursday night on the rezone request.


While few spoke in favor of the development, a dozen spoke against it. Among their concerns were losing the town’s rural character, density of proposed homes and the development’s effect on Delavan Lake.


“You’re sandwiching 202 residences in the middle of agriculture,” said Dana Evans, representing more than 200 people who signed a petition against the development. “We’re not against growth. We feel this is an urban development for an urban area. This is a rural, agricultural area.”


Clemen said because the land is sub-prime farmland, it’s the best place for development.


“They (Walworth Township) have some of the best farmland in the state … and that’s what we need to fight to preserve. But these marginal areas, if you want to have development, that’s where the development should be.”


Residents said the density Clemen is proposing—1.4 dwelling units per acre—is too high.


Jim Van Dreser said the density should be high near the lake and gradually decrease as development reaches further into the rural areas. A handful of other residents said the proposed density is more appropriate near cities and villages.


Clemen said that to the north and east of the site, the density is about five residences per acre.


“That’s why it makes sense,” he said. “It is very appropriate for the density it is adjacent to.”


Clemen added that the designated open space will foster somewhat of a rural feel within the development. He said open space is also key to improving the quality of Delavan Lake.


Tall prairie grasses will slow storm water runoff and filter out pollutants before the water reaches the lake, Clemen said. And property lines won’t extend beyond the perimeter of the development, leaving residents with only a small portion of their property to mow and fertilize, further cutting potential pollution to the lake.


But residents weren’t convinced, and several simply stated they were concerned about the already fragile lake.


Clemen’s revised proposal will come before the county zoning committee at 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20. A new plan would also have to be approved by the town.



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