Janesville51.5°

County OKs subdivision plan

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Kayla Bunge
June 27, 2008
— Robert Clemen slashed his original Covered Bridges subdivision proposal in half and received unanimous approval Thursday from the Walworth County Zoning Agency.

The revised proposal calls for 30 single-family homes and 46 two-family units on 29 acres in a conservation-style development east of County O and south of South Shore Drive in Walworth Township. The other 35 acres would be open space.


That’s about half of the original plan, which called for 74 single-family homes and 68 two-family units on 90 acres, with about 50 acres of open space.


Clemen simply eliminated the southern portion of his original proposal, which is not designated as a sewer service area. Most of the criticism previously directed at Covered Bridges focused on the southern portion’s diversion from the area’s land use plan, he said.


The property currently is leased to a farmer, who is growing soybeans.


Covered Bridges would be a “demonstration project” for development that preserves natural features and improves water quality, Clemen said.


He plans to:


-- Restore the wetlands and remove invasive species of plants that have grown in the sensitive natural area.


-- Construct grassy waterways that will slow, filter and recharge the water that flows through the property.


-- Construct two ponds on the southern portion of the property to filter agricultural runoff from 250 acres of adjacent land.


Each home will be surrounded by permanent open space, Clemen said, which allows for the planting of trees and shrubs to block the view from surrounding properties.


“None of the lot lines go to the property lines,” he said. “No home or villa backs up to another home or villa. All the homes look out on the woods and open space.”


Residents who spoke against the proposal Thursday took issue with the fact that the density is too high for the mostly rural area.


“We don’t want to see a small city in the middle of the country,” said Judy Cowley of Walworth Township. “This would be setting a precedent for … (Clemen) to expand Covered Bridges to its full 210 units at which point one-third of the town of Walworth residents would be living on 140 acres over in one corner.”


Dana Evans of Walworth Township, perhaps the project’s most outspoken critic, called into question Clemen’s plans for the southern portion of the property.


“How do we come up with a master plan if we don’t get to see the other part of the master plan?” she asked. “Is this just phase one of a phase two? Will there be a golf course around the ponds? Will there be more homes around the ponds? Will he ask to extend the sewer service area?


“We can’t ask him because it’s not up for rezone.”


Evans also was critical of the fact that Clemen didn’t reduce the density from his original proposal.


The revised proposal calls for 1.19 units per acre. The original called for 1.01 units per acre.


“It’s exactly the same density,” she said. “Just because the (county’s 2020 land use plan) says this is sewered and says you can put this many homes, does that mean we have to do so? No.”


Supporters of the project said Covered Bridges would be an attractive addition to the township because it is at a lower density than the surrounding area, which includes Millie’s Pancake House and the Delavan Highlands subdivision.


George Kirkpatrick, who lives just a half-mile from the proposed subdivision, said the duplexes of which people were critical would be “certainly different” than the multiple-family units nearby.


“Just across the street from Millie’s is a 10-unit concrete block building,” he said. “And only about three or four blocks to the east is a four-unit, two-story building.


“It’s not like these (duplexes) are plowing new ground for the area. They’d certainly be the best looking. I don’t think they detract anything from the project.”


Clemen said by “clustering” the duplexes, more open space is retained.


“That helps to keep and maintain the rural character of the area,” he said. “Picture 104 single-family homes without clustering. It would look like the area to the north (of the property).”


County zoning agency Chairman Jim Van Dresen said he opposed the original Covered Bridges proposal last year. But the revised proposal, which implemented suggestions from county land use and resource management staff and neighbors, among others, is different, he said.


“This is not the same plan,” Van Dresen said. “What’s important to me is it meets our land use plan.”


Clemen said construction could begin as early as next spring.



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