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A Beloit developer wants to build homes and duplexes on a cornfield behind Walmart in Janesville.

JANESVILLE

A Beloit developer looking to build a subdivision west of the Briar Crest neighborhood might find more success than the last prospective developer based on a neighborhood meeting Thursday night.

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Zach Knutson of Next Generation Construction hosted the meeting to listen to and answer questions from people who live near the 10-acre site behind Walmart.

There was no consensus among neighbors for or against Knutson’s plan, but there were a lot of questions and—at times—skepticism from residents who want to ensure their neighborhood remains a good place to live.

Another developer in 2017 wanted to build 19 five-unit apartment buildings on the same parcel and was met with staunch opposition from residents. That plan never cleared the plan commission.

Dozens of residents packed the Wisconsin Room at the Holiday Inn Express for the meeting.

Knutson said he hopes to build 13 duplexes and 15 single-family homes on the cornfield between Walmart and Briar Crest.

The 15 single-family homes would line up along the east side of Tanglewood Drive, which would end in a cul-de-sac.

The single-family homes would be built to modern trends and would sell in the $280,000 to $290,000 range, Knutson said. There would be a 50-foot buffer between the back lot lines of Briar Crest homes and the back lot lines of the new homes.

The 13 duplexes would line up on the west side of the road, adjacent to Walmart.

Knutson is not yet sure whether the duplexes would be sold as condos or rented out by his company. Many questions centered on things that are currently unknown, such as what rent might cost, what kind of tenants would live there and how the properties would be managed.

Some residents scoffed at the idea of having rental properties in their neighborhood. They were also concerned about increased traffic along Rotamer Road.

Cherek said a traffic study done in 2017 with the previous developer’s proposal showed no changes would have to be made to accommodate 19 five-unit apartments. That conclusion also applies to this lower density project, he said.

Still, some residents insisted a new traffic study be done.

A detention pond where stormwater would flow is planned for the south end of the parcel, Knutson said.

Knutson hopes to start building in spring. Construction time will depend on how long it takes to sell homes.

Before construction can begin, however, Knutson will have to ask the city to rezone the west side of Tanglewood Drive from a single-family residential district to two-family residential district, city Planning Director Duane Cherek said.

Duplexes can be built in a single-family residential district, but only 20% of such lots may be used for duplexes, Cherek said.

A two-family residential district allows up to 50% of homes to be duplexes. The plan commission would have to approve a conditional-use permit to allow all the proposed dwellings on the west side of Tanglewood to be duplexes, Cherek said. The city would also have to change its comprehensive plan before the plan commission could allow rezoning, Cherek said.

The city will require Knutson connect his property to a bike trail easement on the former Devon Drive through the subdivision to connect to the Ice Age Trail, which runs behind Walmart, Cherek said.

The plan would also need city council approval.

This story has been updated to clarify information about the bike trail.

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