A developer is taking his first steps to turn a cornfield on Janesville’s north side into an apartment complex.

Waunakee developer Bill Ranguette has requested the city rezone an undeveloped parcel off East Rotamer Road just west of the Briar Crest subdivision from a single- and two-family residential to medium-density residential. The change would make way for up to 19 apartment buildings with a total of 93 units Ranguette wants to develop on a 10-acre site there.

It’s more complicated than a simple rezoning, though. Rezoning the area also requires an ordinance to alter Janesville’s comprehensive plan, said Ryan Krzos, associate city planner.

State statutes requires zoning decisions be consistent with a municipality’s comprehensive plan. Janesville’s comprehensive plan since 2009 has designated the area for single-family residential development. The comprehensive plan has to be amended before the land can be rezoned, Krzos said.

The Janesville City Council on June 26 approved a resolution allowing a process to amend the city’s comprehensive plan. Amending the plan and rezoning the area will be handled simultaneously, Krzos said.

“This is the first step,” he said.

Ranguette has expressed no intention to develop single-family homes on the property. As The Gazette reported earlier, he wants to build “house-like” apartments with wide courtyards, vaulted ceilings, two-car garages and rents in the $1,250 to $1,400 range.

An apartment complex could bring more traffic and noise, which neighbors oppose.

“It’s a more intense residential district,” Krzos said.

There’s a market demand for multi-family apartments in Janesville. Local landlords have reported months-long waiting lists for single rental units.

Ranguette has continued to work with city staff to refine development plans since an Aug. 15 neighborhood meeting, where several neighbors to the proposed development expressed opposition.

Briar Crest subdivision residents don’t have sidewalks or street lights and like the country feel. An apartment complex would threaten that, at least one neighbor has said. Other neighbors worry about their property values dropping.

The Janesville City Council on Monday will schedule public hearings for the comprehensive plan change and rezoning requests. They’ll go before the Janesville Plan Commission, and public hearings likely will be held Nov. 27, Krzos said.

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